Pregnancy and Birth
What factors contribute to teen pregnancy?
- Many factors are associated with teen pregnancy. Some factors relate to the individual while others focus on the family structure and dynamics, the community environment or peer/partner attitudes and behaviors. First and foremost, however, teen pregnancy is a function of the early initiation of sex and having unprotected sex.
What are the current trends in unintended pregnancy rates?
- In 2011, nearly half (45% or 2.8 million) of the 6.1 million pregnancies in the United States each year were unintended.1
- Unintended pregnancy rates are highest among poor and low-income women, women aged 18–24, cohabiting women and minority women.1
- The proportion of pregnancies that are unintended generally decreases with age. The highest unintended pregnancy rate in 2011 was among women aged 20–24 (81 per 1,000 women).1
- Traditional estimates understate the risk of teen pregnancy among adolescents because they typically include all women, whether or not they are sexually active. When rates are recalculated including only those sexually active, women aged 15–19 have the highest unintended pregnancy rate of any age-group.1
- In the United States, the proportion of pregnancies that were unintended increased slightly between 2001 and 2008 (from 48% to 51%), but, by 2011, it decreased to 45%.1
- Following a long period of minimal change, the overall unintended pregnancy rate (the number of unintended pregnancies per 1,000 women aged 15–44) decreased substantially from 54 in 2008 to 45 in 2011, a decline of 18%. This is the lowest rate since at least 1981 and is likely due to an overall increase in contraceptive use and the use of highly effective methods.1
- The unintended pregnancy rate among teens has been declining since the late 1980s. Between 2008 and 2011, the unintended pregnancy rate among women aged 18–19 declined 20%, and the unintended birth rate declined 21%. Among women aged 15–17, the unintended pregnancy rate declined 44% during the same period, and the unintended birth rate declined 47%.1
What age groups of teens experience the most pregnancies?
- Pregnancies among 18–19-year-olds made up the majority of all teen pregnancies (70% in 2011).4
How do teen pregnancy rates in the United States compare to other countries?
- The teen pregnancy rate is still highest in the United States (57 per 1,000 15–19-year-olds), followed by New Zealand (51) and England and Wales (47). The lowest rate was in Switzerland (8 per 1,000), followed by the Netherlands (14), Slovenia (14) and Singapore (14).3
- The United States’ teen pregnancy rate is seven times that of Switzerland.3
- The highest pregnancy rates among 10–14-year-olds were in Hungary and the United States, while the lowest was in Switzerland.3
What are the current trends in birth rates for teen and young adult women?
Overall Teen Birth Rates
- The 2015 preliminary birth rate for teenagers was 22.3 births per 1,000 women aged 15–19—yet another historic low for the country.2
- The teen birth rate was down 8% from 2014 (24.2) and has declined more than 46% since 2007. Since the most recent peak in 1991 (61.8), the rate has declined a total of 64%.2
- In 2015, the preliminary number of births to women aged 15–19 was 229,888, down 8% from 2014 and 48% from 2007 (444,899).2
- The birth rate for females aged 10–14 was 0.2 births per 1,000 in 2015, declining from 2014 (0.3), to a new historic low for the country. The number of births to mothers in this age group declined 10% in 2015, to 2,503 births.2
- In 2015, the preliminary birth rates for teenagers aged 15–17 and 18–19 fell 9% and 7%, respectively, to 9.9 and 40.7 births per 1,000 women. These rates were yet another record low for both groups, from 10.9 and 43.8 in 2014. Since 2007, the rate for teenagers aged 15–17 has dropped 54%, and the rate for those aged 18–19 has dropped 43%. The number of births for teenagers aged 15–17 declined 8% from 2014 to 2015, and births to those aged 18–19 declined 7%.2
- The teen birth rates for women ages 15 through 19 decreased for all racial and ethnic groups during the period 2007 to 2014.6
- The birth rate for non-Hispanic white teens was 16 births per 1,000; a 8% decline from 2014 and a 63% decline from 1991.5
- The birth rate for non-Hispanic black teens was 32 births per 1,000; a 9% decline from 2014 and a 73% decline from 1991.5
- The birth rate for Hispanic teens was 35 births per 1,000 teens; a 8% decline from 2014 and a 67% decline since 1991.5
- The birth rate for American Indian or Alaska Native teens was 26 births per 1,000 teens; a 6% decline from 2014 and a 69% decline since 1991.5
- The birth rate for Asian or Pacific Islander teens was 7 births per 1,000 teens; a 10% decline from 2014 and a 75% decline from 1991.5
- In 2014, of the 251,847 births to females under age 20, 89% (223,386 births) were to unmarried teenagers. With fewer teens entering into marriage, the proportion of births to unmarried teens has increased dramatically (89% in 2014 versus 29% in 1970).6
1 Guttmacher Institute. (2016, September). Unintended pregnancy in the United States [Fact sheet]. Retrieved from https://www.guttmacher.org/sites/default/files/factsheet/fb-unintended-pregnancy-us_0.pdf
2 Hamilton, B. E., Martin, J. A., & Osterman, M. J. K. (2016). Births: Preliminary data for 2015. National Vital Statistics Reports, 65(3). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr65/nvsr65_03.pdf
3 Sedgh, G., Finer, L. B., Bankole, A., Eilers, M. A., & Singh, S. (2015). Adolescent pregnancy, birth, and abortion rates across countries: Levels and recent trends. Journal of Adolescent Health, 56(2), 223-230. Retrieved from http://www.jahonline.org/article/S1054-139X(14)00387-5/fulltext
4 Kost, K., & Maddow-Zimet, I. (2016, April). U.S. teenage pregnancies, births and abortions, 2011: National trends by age, race and ethnicity. Retrieved from https://www.guttmacher.org/sites/default/files/report_pdf/us-teen-pregnancy-trends-2011_0.pdf
5 The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. National & state data: The national story. Retrieved 5/22/17 from http://thenationalcampaign.org/data/landing
6 Solomon-Fears, C. (2016, January 15). Teenage pregnancy prevention: Statistics and programs. Congressional Research Service. Retrieved from https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/RS20301.pdf