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Teenage pregnancy in the United States

The article is about teen pregnancy in the United States. For a broader view see Teen pregnancy and Adolescent sexuality in the United States.

Teenage pregnancy in the United States relates to girls under the age of 20 who get pregnant.

File:Anti-teenage pregnancy III.jpg
An anti-teenage pregnancy poster


Each year, almost 750,000 girls aged 15–19 become pregnant. According to Planned Parenthood two-thirds of all teen pregnancies occur among the oldest teens (18–19-year-olds).[1] Of them, 82% are unplanned, accounting for about 20% of all unintended pregnancies annually.[1] Of pregnancies among 15–19-year-olds girls in 2008, 59% ended in birth, 26% in abortion, and the rest in miscarriage.[1] In 2012, there were 104,700 maternal hospital stays for pregnant teens; the number of hospital stays for teen pregnancies decreased by 47 percent from 2000-2012.[2]

Overall, 57 pregnancies occurred per 1,000 girls aged 15–19 in 2008. In other words nearly 6% of 15–19-year-old girls became pregnant in 2008. Pregnancies are much less common among girls younger than 15. In 2008, 6.6 pregnancies occurred per 1,000 teens aged 13-14. In other words, fewer than 1% of teens younger than 15 became pregnant in 2008.[1]

Teen pregnancies—defined as pregnancies in women under the age of 20, regardless of marital status—in the United States decreased 28% between 1990 and 2000, from 117 pregnancies per every 1,000 teens to 84 per 1,000.[3] The 2008 rate was a record low and represented a 42% decline from the peak rate of 117 per 1,000, which occurred in 1990.[1] From 2009 to 2010, the teen pregnancy rate dropped 9%, the biggest one year drop since the 1940s.[4]

Teenage birth rates, as opposed to pregnancies, peaked in 1991, when there were 61.8 births per 1,000 teens, and the rate dropped in 17 of the 19 years that followed.[4] One in four American women who had sex during their teenage years will have a baby before they are married, compared to only one in ten who wait until they are older.[5] Even more will experience a pregnancy. Of women who have sex in their teens, nearly 30% will conceive a child before they are married. Conversely, only 15% of women who don't have sex in their teens will become pregnant before they are married.[5] Of all women, 16% will be teen mothers.[6]

By ethnicity

Black and Hispanic women have the highest teen pregnancy rates (117 and 107 per 1,000 women aged 15–19, respectively). Studies show that whites (43 per 1,000)[1] and Asians (23 per 1,000)[6] have the lowest rate of pregnancy before the age of 20. The pregnancy rate among black teens decreased 48% between 1990 and 2008, more than the overall U.S. teen pregnancy rate declined during the same period (42%).[1] Slightly more than half of Hispanic and black women will become pregnant before the age of 20.[6] Declines in birth rates between 2007 and 2011 were steepest for Hispanic teenagers, averaging 34% for the United States, followed by declines of 24% for non-Hispanic black teenagers and 20% for non-Hispanic white teenagers. Rates in Arizona and Utah declined the most during that period.[7]

By region

Statistics also vary regionally. In 2008, New Mexico had the highest teenage pregnancy rate (93 per 1,000); rates in Mississippi, Texas, Nevada and Arkansas followed. The lowest rates were in New Hampshire (33 per 1,000), followed by Vermont, Minnesota, North Dakota and Massachusetts.[1] In New England, most states had less than 20 births per 1,000 girls.[8]

International comparisons typically place US teen pregnancy and teen birth rates among the highest in the developed world. For example, a 2001 study by UNICEF found that the US teenage birth rate was the highest among 28 OECD nations in the review;[9] in a 1999 comparison by the Guttmacher Institute, U.S. teen pregnancy and teen birth rates were the second-highest among the 46 developed countries studied.[10][11] In 2002, the U.S. was rated 84th out of 170 World Health Organization member countries based on teenage fertility rate.[12]

Sexually active teens in the US are less likely to use any contraceptive method Condoms and especially less likely to use highly effective hormonal methods, primarily the pill, than their peers in other countries. The research also found that US teens who become pregnant are less likely to choose abortion, whether due to lack of access, higher levels of antiabortion sentiment, or greater acceptance of teen motherhood.[13]

Despite having declined, the U.S. teen pregnancy rate continues to be one of the highest in the developed world. It is more than twice as high as rates in Canada (28 per 1,000 women aged 15–19 in 2006) and Sweden (31 per 1,000).[1]


There were 334,000 births among girls aged 19 or younger in 2011, representing 8% of all U.S. births.[1] Births to teen mothers peaked in 1991 at 62 births per 1,000 girls. This rate was halved by 2011 when there were 31 births per 1,000 girls.[1]

Most of these were first births; 18% were the second or higher child.[1] Eighty-nine percent of the girls are unmarried at the time they gave birth.[1] In 1972, 52% of all mothers who gave birth while unmarried were teenagers; in 2011 they made up just 18%.[1]

For every 1,000 black boys in the United States, 29 of them are fathers, compared to 14 per 1,000 white boys.[1] The rate of teen fatherhood declined 36% between 1991 and 2010, from 25 to 16 per 1,000 males aged 15–19. This decline was more substantial among blacks than among whites (50% vs. 26%) and about half of the rate among teen girls.[1]

Most female teens report that they would be very upset (58%) or a little upset (29%) if they got pregnant, while the remaining 13% report that they would be a little or very pleased.[1] Most teen males report that they would be very upset (47%) or a little upset (34%) if they got someone pregnant, while the remaining 18% report that they would be pleased or a little pleased.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r "" (PDF). Guttmacher Institute. June 2013. Retrieved 2013-08-14. 
  2. ^ Witt WP, Wiess AJ, Elixhauser A (December 2014). "Overview of Hospital Stays for Children in the United States, 2012". HCUP Statistical Brief #186. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. 
  3. ^ "U.S. Teen Sexual Activity" (PDF). Kaiser Family Foundation. January 2005. Archived (PDF) from the original on 17 March 2007. Retrieved 2007-03-11. 
  4. ^ a b Timothy W. Martin (2011). "Birth Rate Continues to Slide Among Teens". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2012-03-07. 
  5. ^ a b Anthony Paik (2011). "Adolescent Sexuality and the Risk of Marital Dissolution". Journal of Marriage and Family 73 (2): 472. doi:10.1111/j.1741-3737.2010.00819.x. 
  6. ^ a b c "Policy Brief: Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Teen Pregnancy" (PDF). The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. July 2008. Archived (PDF) from the original on 29 October 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-13. 
  7. ^ Hamilton, Brady E. et al. (2013). Declines in State Teen Birth Rates by Race and Hispanic Origin. Hyattsville, Md.: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics.
  8. ^ Rampell, Catherine (April 10, 2012). "Teenage Birthrates at Record Low". New York Times. Retrieved 2012-10-09. 
  9. ^ UNICEF. (2001). A League Table of Teenage Births in Rich Nations PDF (888 KB). Retrieved July 7, 2006.
  10. ^ Indicator: Births per 1000 women (15–19 ys) – 2002 UNFPA, State of World Population 2003. Retrieved January 22, 2007.
  11. ^ "Core Health Indicators". World Health Organization. 2008. Retrieved 2012-03-07. 

External links

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