10 Things You Didn't Know About Pregnant Teenagers in America

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Teenage pregnancy refers to the pregnancy of adolescent females under the age of 20. Some common risks of teen pregnancy can include low iron levels, high blood pressure, and preterm labor. Teen pregnancies are ​problematic because they pose several health risks for the baby and children, and teenage mothers are more susceptible to having medical, social, and emotional problems, in comparison to adult mothers.

Although adolescent pregnancy rates are on the decline, the United States still has one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy in the developed worlds. According to a 2017 report by the Guttmacher Institute, the following statistics characterize teenage pregnancy in the U.S.

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Roughly 229,715 Teens Between 15 and 19 Became Pregnant in 2015

Teens wearing fake pregnancy bellies
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This was a drop from the numbers in 2013, when 448,000 teens between 15 and 19 became pregnant, roughly 4.3% of this age group. 2015 is a record low for U.S. teens and an amazing 8% drop since 2014 statistics were released.

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Teen Mothers Account for 7% of All Births in the U.S.

In 2013, there were 276,000 births among women aged 19 or younger. There were 26 births per 1,000 women aged 15–19 in 2013. This represents a remarkable decline of more than 50% from the peak rate in 1991 of 62 births per 1,000. Evidence suggests that this decline is primarily due to increases in teenage contraceptive use. Declines in sexual activity played a smaller role.

While teenage pregnancy rates are down, including birth and abortion declining in all U.S. states, the highest numbers of teen pregnancies happen in New Mexico, while the fewest occur in New Hampshire.

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Most Teen Pregnancies are Unplanned

Out of all pregnancies among teens aged 15–19 years old, 75% were unintended in 2008–2011. Teen pregnancy accounts for about 15% of all unplanned pregnancies annually. 

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes the following:

"Research shows that teens who talk with their parents about sex, relationships, birth control and pregnancy begin to have sex at later age, use condoms and birth control more often if they do have sex, have better communication with romantic partners, and have sex less often."

Information helps to combat ignorance. Check out Planned Parenthood's Tool for Parents for resources on how to speak to teens about sex.

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Almost Three Quarters of Teen Pregnancies Occur Among Teens 18–19 Years Old

Relatively few teens get pregnant before the age of 15. In 2013, four pregnancies occurred per 1,000 teens aged 14 or younger. Less than half of 1% of teens younger than 15 become pregnant each year.

There are unique risks at hand for pregnant teens under the age of 15. For example, they are more likely to not use contraception. They are also more likely to have sex with an older partner, who is at least six years older, during their first sexual experience. Pregnancies for extremely young girls often end in miscarriage or abortion, according to Dr. Marcela Smid.

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Out of All Teen Pregnancies, Around 60% End in Birth.

Sixty-one percent of pregnancies among 15–19-year-olds in 2013 ended in births, while 24% ended in abortions and the rest in miscarriages, up 1% from over a decade ago.

Roughly 17 percent of births in this age group belonged to women who already had one or more babies.

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Just Under a Quarter of Pregnant Teenagers Chose Abortion in 2013.

Out of all teenage pregnancies, 24% are terminated by abortion, down from 29% over a decade ago. 

Teens are sometimes dissuaded from seeking abortions because of dishonest pregnancy crisis centers. However, a recent law passed in California has made their work just a bit harder and will possibly have ripple effects across the country. 

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Hispanic and Non-Hispanic Black Teens have the Highest Teen Birth Rate

In 2013, Hispanic adolescent females ages 15-19 had the highest birth rate (41.7 births per 1,000 adolescent females), followed by Black adolescent females (39.0 births per 1,000 adolescent females), and White adolescent females (18.6 births per 1,000 adolescent females).

While Hispanics currently have the highest teen birth rates, they have also had a dramatic recent decline in rates. Since 2007, the teen birth rate has declined by 58% for Hispanics, compared with declines of 53% for Blacks and 47% for Whites.

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Teens Who Become Pregnant Are Less Likely to Attend College.

Although teenage mothers today are more likely to finish high school or earn their GED than in the past, pregnant teens are less likely to attend college than teens who do not become pregnant. More specifically, only 40 percent of teen mothers complete high school, and less than two percent finish college before they are 30-years-old.

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U.S. Teen Pregnancy Rates are Higher than Many Other Developed Countries

At 43 pregnancies per 1,000 women aged 15–19 in 2013, the U.S. teenage pregnancy rate is ​significantly higher than recent rates found in other developed countries, including France (25 per 1,000) and Sweden (29 per 1,000).

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Teen Pregnancy Rates Have Been Steadily Declining for the Past Two Decades.

The teen pregnancy rate reached an all-time high in 1990 with an estimated 116.9 per thousand and an all-time high birth rate of 61.8 births per thousand in 1991. By 2002, the pregnancy rate had dropped to 75.4 per thousand, a decline of 36%.

While there was a 3% increase in teenage pregnancy from 2005 to 2006, the 2010 rate was a record low and represented a 51% decline from the peak rate seen in 1990. The decline in teen pregnancy rates is due primarily to teens’ improved contraceptive use.


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Lowen, Linda. "10 Things You Didn't Know About Pregnant Teenagers in America." ThoughtCo, Feb. 16, 2021, thoughtco.com/teen-pregnancy-facts-3533778. Lowen, Linda. (2021, February 16). 10 Things You Didn't Know About Pregnant Teenagers in America. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/teen-pregnancy-facts-3533778 Lowen, Linda. "10 Things You Didn't Know About Pregnant Teenagers in America." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/teen-pregnancy-facts-3533778 (accessed May 9, 2021).

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