Trends in Teen Pregnancy and Childbearing

Teen Births

In 2019, there were 16.7 births for every 1,000 adolescent females ages 15-19, or 171,674 babies born to females in this age group. Births to teens ages 15-19 accounted for less than 5.0 percent of all births in 2019.1 In 2011, the most recent year data are available, 75 percent of births to teens ages 15-19 were unintended.2 And given the age of these mothers, in 2019 nine in ten (90.5 percent) of these births occurred outside of marriage.1 The 2019 teen birth rate (births per 1,000 females ages 15-19 in a given year) was down eleven percent from 2017, when the birth rate was 18.8, and down 74 percent from 1991 when it was at a record high of 61.8. The teen birth rate has declined to a new low each year since 2009.1,3 Still, the teen birth rate in the United States remains higher than that in many other developed countries, including Canada and the United Kingdom.4

Not all teen births are first births. In 2019, one in six (15.9 percent) births to 15- to 19-year-olds were to females who already had one or more births.1

Variations in Teen Birth Rates across Populations

Teen birth rates differ substantially by age, racial and ethnic group, and region of the country. Most adolescents who give birth are 18 or older; in 2019, 76 percent of all teen births occurred to 18- to 19-year-olds.1 Birth rates are higher among American Indian/Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander, Hispanic, and Black adolescents than among teens overall. In 2019, American Indian/Alaska Native adolescent females ages 15-19 had the highest birth rate (29.2), followed by Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander adolescent females (26.2 births per 1,000 adolescent females), black adolescent females (25.8 births per 1,000 adolescent females), and Hispanic adolescent females (25.3 births per 1,000 adolescent females). The overall adolescent female birth rate in 2019 was 16.7 (see Figure 1).1 To help put these differences in perspective, estimates from 2013 show that 16 percent of Black adolescent females and 17 percent of Hispanic adolescent females will give birth by their 20th birthday.5

Figure 1: Birth rates per 1,000 females ages 15-19, by race and Hispanic origin of mother, 1990-2019

Line graph shows generally declining birth rates for females ages 15-19 for Hispanic, Black, White, American Indian/Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander, and Total populations. See Table 1 for details.

Sources:

Table 1: Birth rates per 1,000 females ages 15-19, by race and Hispanic origin of mother, 1990-2019
Note: Data for AI/AN and Native Hawaiian populations became available in 2015 and 2016, respectively.

Year collected

Total

White

Black

Hispanic

American Indian/
Alaska Native

Native Hawaiian/
Other Pacific Islander

1990

59.9

42.5

116.2

100.3

 

 

1991

61.8

43.4

118.2

104.6

 

 

1992

60.3

41.7

114.7

103.3

 

 

1993

59

40.7

110.5

101.8

 

 

1994

58.2

40.4

105.7

101.3

 

 

1995

56

39.3

97.2

99.3

 

 

1996

53.5

37.6

91.9

94.6

 

 

1997

51.3

36

88.3

89.6

 

 

1998

50.3

35.3

85.7

87.9

 

 

1999

48.8

34.1

81

86.8

 

 

2000

47.7

32.6

79.2

87.3

 

 

2001

45

30.3

73.1

84.4

 

 

2002

42.6

28.6

67.7

80.6

 

 

2003

41.1

27.4

63.7

78.4

 

 

2004

40.5

26.7

61.8

78.1

 

 

2005

39.7

26

59.4

76.5

 

 

2006

41.1

26.7

61.9

77.4

 

 

2007

41.5

27.2

62

75.3

 

 

2008

40.2

26.7

60.4

70.3

 

 

2009

37.9

25.7

56.7

63.6

 

 

2010

34.3

23.5

51.5

55.7

 

 

2011

31.3

21.7

47.3

49.6

 

 

2012

29.4

20.5

43.9

46.3

 

 

2013

26.5

18.6

39

41.7

 

 

2014

24.2

17.3

34.9

38

 

 

2015

22.3

16

31.8

34.9

25.7

--

2016

20.3

14.3

29.3

31.9

35.1

28.6

2017

18.8

13.2

27.5

28.9

32.9

25.5

2018

17.4

12.1

26.3

26.7

29.7

26.5

2019

16.7

11.4

25.8

25.3

29.2

26.2

Sources:

Teen birth rates also vary substantially across regions and states. In 2019, the lowest teen birth rates were reported in the northeast, while rates were highest in states across the southern part of the country (see Figure 2).1

Figure 2: Birth rates per 1,000 females ages 15-19, by state, 2019

Map of United States shows number of births per 1,000 females aged 15–19. See Table 2 for details.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021). Births: Final data for 2019. National Vital Statistics Reports, 70(2), Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr70/nvsr70-02-508.pdf - PDF

Table 2: Birth rates per 1,000 females ages 15-19, by state, 2019

State

Birth Rate

Birth Rate Range

United States

16.7

6.6-<17.6 (white)

Alabama

25.6

17.6-<28.6 (light pink)

Alaska

18.3

17.6-<28.6 (light pink)

Arizona

18.5

17.6-<28.6 (light pink)

Arkansas

30.0

28.6-<39.6 (dark pink)

California

12.4

6.6-<17.6 (white)

Colorado

13.9

6.6-<17.6 (white)

Connecticut

7.7

6.6-<17.6 (white)

Delaware

14.9

6.6-<17.6 (white)

District of Columbia

16.8

6.6-<17.6 (white)

Florida

16.2

6.6-<17.6 (white)

Georgia

19.7

17.6-<28.6 (light pink)

Hawaii

15.7

6.6-<17.6 (white)

Idaho

14.9

6.6-<17.6 (white)

Illinois

14.6

6.6-<17.6 (white)

Indiana

20.8

17.6-<28.6 (light pink)

Iowa

14.1

6.6-<17.6 (white)

Kansas

19.2

17.6-<28.6 (light pink)

Kentucky

24.9

17.6-<28.6 (light pink)

Louisiana

27.8

17.6-<28.6 (light pink)

Maine

9.1

6.6-<17.6 (white)

Maryland

13.9

6.6-<17.6 (white)

Massachusetts

6.9

6.6-<17.6 (white)

Michigan

15.1

6.6-<17.6 (white)

Minnesota

10.1

6.6-<17.6 (white)

Mississippi

29.1

28.6-<39.6 (dark pink)

Missouri

20.3

17.6-<28.6 (light pink)

Montana

16.3

6.6-<17.6 (white)

Nebraska

15.3

6.6-<17.6 (white)

Nevada

18.9

17.6-<28.6 (light pink)

New Hampshire

6.6

6.6-<17.6 (white)

New Jersey

10.0

6.6-<17.6 (white)

New Mexico

24.4

17.6-<28.6 (light pink)

New York

11.4

6.6-<17.6 (white)

North Carolina

18.2

17.6-<28.6 (light pink)

North Dakota

15.6

6.6-<17.6 (white)

Ohio

18.8

17.6-<28.6 (light pink)

Oklahoma

27.4

17.6-<28.6 (light pink)

Oregon

12.1

6.6-<17.6 (white)

Pennsylvania

13.3

6.6-<17.6 (white)

Rhode Island

10.0

6.6-<17.6 (white)

South Carolina

21.6

17.6-<28.6 (light pink)

South Dakota

19.2

17.6-<28.6 (light pink)

Tennessee

23.7

17.6-<28.6 (light pink)

Texas

24.0

17.6-<28.6 (light pink)

Utah

12.0

6.6-<17.6 (white)

Vermont

7.6

6.6-<17.6 (white)

Virginia

13.6

6.6-<17.6 (white)

Washington

12.7

6.6-<17.6 (white)

West Virginia

25.2

17.6-<28.6 (light pink)

Wisconsin

12.5

6.6-<17.6 (white)

Wyoming

19.4

17.6-<28.6 (light pink)

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021). Births: Final data for 2019. National Vital Statistics Reports, 70(2), Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr70/nvsr70-02-508.pdf - PDF

Teen Pregnancies

The national teen pregnancy rate (number of pregnancies per 1,000 females ages 15-19) has declined almost continuously over the last quarter century. The teen pregnancy rate includes pregnancies that end in a live birth, as well as those that end in abortion or miscarriage (fetal loss).* In 2016 (the most recent year in which data are available), teen pregnancy rates were calculated separately for teens ages 15-17 and 18-19. Although the teen pregnancy rate declined in the last 30 years among both of these groups, it declined most strikingly among teens ages 15-17 - by 75 percent from 78 pregnancies per 1,000 females in 1988 to 19 pregnancies per 1,000 females in 2016.6 According to recent research, this decline is due to the combination of delays in sexual intercourse among adolescents and the increased use of effective contraceptives by adolescents.7,8

In 2011 (the most recent year data are available), 75 percent of teen pregnancies were unintended.2 In other words, the pregnancies were unwanted or occurred “too soon,” according to a national survey of adolescents.2 In 2013, the majority — an estimated 61 percent — of pregnancies to adolescent females ages 15-19 in the United States ended in a live birth; 15 percent ended in a miscarriage; and 25 percent ended in an abortion. The rate of abortions among adolescents is the lowest since abortion was legalized in 1973 and is 76 percent lower than its peak in 1988.7

* The teen pregnancy rate is the sum all live births, abortions, and miscarriages (or fetal losses) per 1,000 adolescent females ages 15-19 in a given year.

Who is at Greater Risk of Adolescent Childbearing?

Well-documented individual, family, and community characteristics have been linked to adolescent childbearing. For example, adolescents who are enrolled in school and engaged in learning (including participating in after-school activities, having positive attitudes toward school, and performing well educationally) are less likely than are other adolescents to have a baby.9 At the family level, adolescents with mothers who gave birth as teens and/or whose mothers have only a high school degree are more likely to have a baby before age 20 than are teens whose mothers were older at their birth or who attended at least some college. In addition, having lived with both biological parents at age 14 is associated with a lower risk of a teen birth.10At the community level, adolescents who live in wealthier neighborhoods with strong levels of employment are less likely to have a baby than are adolescents in neighborhoods in which income and employment opportunities are more limited.9 The link between these socioeconomic characteristics and teen childbearing, as well as the relatively high rates of adolescent childbearing seen among Black and Hispanic teens, can be attributed to inequities in access to knowledge about contraception and reproductive healthcare, differences in attitudes about teen pregnancy, and distrust and fear of medical professionals due to some groups’ history with the medical field.11 Professionals working with youth should be aware of and acknowledge the historical reasons disparities in adolescent childbearing exist in the United States.

Footnotes

1 Martin, J. A., Hamilton, B. E., Osterman, M. J. K., & Driscoll, A. K. (2021). Births: Final data for 2019 (National Vital Statistics Reports Volume 70, Number 2). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr70/nvsr70-02-508.pdf - PDF back to top

2 Finer, L. B., & Zolna, M. R. (2016). Declines in Unintended Pregnancy in the United States, 2008-2011. The New England Journal of Medicine374(9), 843–852. https://doi.org/10.1056/NEJMsa1506575 back to top

3 >Martin, J. A., Hamilton, B. E., Osterman, M. J. K., & Driscoll, A. K. (2019). Births: Final data for 2018 (National Vital Statistics Reports Volume 68, Number 13). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr68/nvsr68_13-508.pdf - PDF back to top

4 The World Bank. (n.d.). Adolescent fertility rate (births per 1,000 women ages 15-19 [Data set]. https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.ADO.TFRT back to top

5 Cook, E. (Unpublished). Percentage of teens who will experience a first birth based on analyses of NCHS Vital Statistics 2013 final birth data. Child Trends. back to top

6 Maddow-Zimet, I., Kost, K., & Finn, S. (2020). Pregnancies, Births and Abortions in the United States, 1973–2016: National and State Trends by Age. Guttmacher Institute. https://www.guttmacher.org/report/pregnancies-births-abortions-in-united-states-1973-2016# back to top

7 Kost, K., Maddow-Zimet, I., & Arpaia, A. (2017). Pregnancies, births and abortions among adolescents and young women in the United States, 2013: National and state trends by age, race and ethnicity. Guttmacher Institute. https://www.guttmacher.org/sites/default/files/report_pdf/us-adolescent-pregnancy-trends-2013.pdf - PDF back to top

8 Santelli, J. S., Lindberg, L. D., Finer, L. B., & Singh, S. (2007). Explaining recent declines in adolescent pregnancy in the United States: The contribution of abstinence and improved contraceptive use. American Journal of Public Health, 97(1), 150-156. https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2006.089169 back to top

9 Kirby, D., & Lepore, G. (2007). Sexual risk and protective factors: Factors affecting teen sexual behavior, pregnancy, childbearing and sexually transmitted disease. ETR Associates. http://recapp.etr.org/recapp/documents/theories/RiskProtectiveFactors200712.pdf - PDF back to top

10 Martinez, G., Copen, C. E., & Abma, J. C. (2011). Teenagers in the United States: Sexual activity, contraceptive use, and childbearing, 2006-2010 National Survey of Family Growth (Vital and Health Statistics Series 10, Number 31). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/series/sr_23/sr23_031.pdf - PDF back to top

11 Dehlendorf, C., Rodriguez, M. I., Levy, K., Borrero, S., & Steinauer, J. (2010). Disparities in family planning. American journal of obstetrics and gynecology202(3), 214–220. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ajog.2009.08.022 back to top