Girish Mahajan

Teenage pregnancy in the United States

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Teenage pregnancy in the United States

Teenage pregnancy in the United States relates to girls under the age of 20 who become pregnant. Most occurrences take place out-of-wedlock.



According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 4 out of 5, 80%, of teenage pregnancies are unintended. In 2010, of the majority of pregnancies to adolescent females in the United States, an estimated 60% ended in live birth, 15% ended in miscarriage, and 30% in abortion. 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.

In 2014, 249,078 babies were born to women aged 15 – 19 years old. This is a birth rate of 24.2 per 1000 women. 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.

Teen pregnancy is defined as pregnancies in women under the age of 20, regardless of marital status. Teen pregnancy rates have dropped 9% since 2013. Between 1991 and 2014, teenage birth rates dropped 61% nationwide.

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. 3 in 10 American girls will get pregnant before age 20. That is almost 750,000 pregnancies a year. Nearly 89% of teenage births occur outside of marriage. Of all women, 16% will be teen mothers. The largest increases in unintended pregnancies were found among women who were cohabiting, had lower education, and low income.

By Ethnicity

Black, Latina, and American Indian youth experience the highest rates of teenage pregnancy and childbirth. Studies show that whites (43 per 1,000) and Asians (23 per 1,000) 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%). The teen birth rate decline broken down by race in 2014 from 2013:

  • 7% for Non-Hispanic Whites
  • 11% for Non-Hispanic Blacks
  • 9% Hispanic
  • 11% Asian/Pacific Islander
  • 12% American Indian/Alaska Natives
  • By Region

    Teen birth rates in the United States are higher than that of many other developed countries.

    In 2013, the lowest birth rates were reported in the Northeast, while the highest rates were located in the south east. For example, a 2001 study by UNICEF found that the US teenage birth rate was the highest among 28 OECD nations in the review; 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. In 2002, the U.S. was rated 84th out of 170 World Health Organization member countries based on teenage fertility rate.

    Sexually active teens in the US are less likely to use any contraceptive method, including Condoms, and are especially less likely to use highly effective hormonal methods, primarily the pill, than their peers in other countries. Among adolescents who had sex in the past month: almost 25% of males and 40% of females did not use a condom. The research also found that US teens who become pregnant are less likely to choose abortion. This could be due to the fact that the resources for abortions are not readily available. 75% of women in rural areas have to drive at least 50 miles for abortion services. 87% of United States counties do not have an abortion provider.

    Parenting as a Teenager

    There were 334,000 births among girls aged 19 or younger in 2011, representing 8% of all U.S. births. 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. About 25% of teenage mothers have a second child within 24 months of the first birth.

    For every 1,000 black boys in the United States, 29 of them are fathers, compared to 14 per 1,000 white boys. 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. Nearly 80% of teenage fathers do not marry the teenage mother of their child. Teenage fathers have 10-15% lower annual earnings than teenagers who do not father children.

    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. Most male teens 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 a little or very pleased.

    Parenting as a teenager has detrimental effects on the children. Children born to teenage mothers are more likely to: be born prematurely, 50% more likely to repeat a grade, live in poverty, and suffer higher rates of abuse. The sons of teen mothers are 13% more likely to end up incarcerated, and the daughters of teenage mothers are 22% more likely to become teenage mothers. More than 25% of teen mothers live in poverty during their 20’s.

    Teenage Pregnancy imposes lasting hardships on two generations: mother and child. Evidence from U.S. studies show that women who bear their first child at an early age bear more children rapidly and have more unwanted and out-of-wedlock births. Children of teenage parents are more likely to have lower academic achievements and tend to repeat the cycle of early marriage and early childbearing of their parents.

    Supporting Teenage Parents

    More than 50% of teenage mothers do not graduate from high school. Some high schools in the United States offer a program for pregnant and parenting teens to continue their education. These are sometimes referred to as "Teen Parent Programs".

    There are several benefits to these school based programs, the number one benefit being teens are able to continue their high school education. Studies have shown that when teen parents stay in school after being pregnant, they have a better chance of graduating high school. Less than 2% of teen moms earn a college degree by age 30. Many of these programs offer on-campus childcare. Some even require the pregnant and parenting teens to attend parenting classes or practicum classes. The parenting classes offer a place for these young parents to learn about the basic needs of a child. While, the practicum classes offer a hands on experience caring for the children in the childcare center.

    Statistics show that less than 10% of teen parents earn their high school diploma by their eighteenth birthday. These programs are trying to change those statistics. Currently (2016), San Diego County has 7 high schools that offer these teen parent programs.


    Teen pregnancies can be prevented. Prevention can not only be beneficial on a micro level but it is also beneficial on a more macro scale. Nationally, teen pregnancies cost tax payers an average of $9.4 billion each year. These costs are associated with health care, foster care, criminal justice, public assistance and lost tax revenue. Teen Pregnancies can help be prevented by increasing access to contraceptives and increasing correct and consistent use of contraceptives, more parental involvement, and more education about sexual intercourse.


    Teenage pregnancy in the United States Wikipedia

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