Teen Pregnancy Part 1: Number of Births per 1,000 Females* age 15 to 19, 2006
Three in 10 girls in the United States will be pregnant at least once before age 20. In 2006, the teen birth rate increased by 3 percent after a 15 year decline. Teen mothers are less likely to finish high school and they and their children are more likely to live in poverty, depend on public assistance, and be in poor health. Their children are more likely to suffer cognitive disadvantages, come in contact with the child welfare and correctional systems, drop out of high school and become teen parents themselves. The president's FY2010 budget proposes $164 million for a new teen pregnancy prevention initiative, which includes $50 million in grants to states, tribes and territories, and awards the remainder in competitive grants for evidence-based programs, research and evaluation.
Teen Childbearing Facts
• In 2004, the cost of teen childbearing was $9.1 billion. Costs include public services and lower taxes paid by teen parents and their children over their lifetimes.
• Hispanic teen birth rates are triple and African American rates are double that of whites.
• The birth rate among teens age 18 to 19 is more than double the rate of teens age 15 to 17.
• Teenage mothers are more likely to have low-birthweight babies due to lack of early or sufficient prenatal care and poor behavioral choices during pregnancy. Premature babies cost more and face an increased risk of health problems, long-term disabilities and even death.
Options for Policymakers
• Support school-based sexual health education programs, which address abstinence and contraception. Research shows that prevention education reduces sexual risk-taking among
young people. Twenty states and the District of Columbia require public schools to teach sex education.
• Require sexual health education curricula to be science-based; 12 states require sex education curricula to be medically accurate. State policies vary in their determination of “medically accurate;” some require that state health departments review curricula, while others require that the facts taught come from “published authorities upon which medical professionals rely.”
• Support community-based programs for at-risk teens that provide academic support, career preparation, family life and sexual health education, recreation/lifetime sports and self-esteem enhancement information and resources. Connecticut's Pathways/Sanderos, a pregnancy prevention program, found that all program participants completed high school and 72 percent pursued secondary education.
Sources: National Center for Health Statistics, National Vital Statistics Report, Births: Final Data for 2006, January 2009; National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, By the Numbers: The Public Costs of Teen Childbearing, 2006.
Teen Pregnancy Part 2: Percentage of Teen Births that Are Repeat Births, * 2005
Repeat Teen Childbearing
• One-fifth of births to teens in 2005 were to girls who were already mothers.
• Repeat births compound the challenges young families face in completing their education and becoming financially stable.
• Repeat teen births for mothers under age 20 usually occur within two years of the first birth. Health outcomes are better when pregnancies are planned and spaced as parents desire.
• Repeat births for African Americans and Hispanic teens are above the national average at 23 percent and 22 percent, respectively. The national average is 20 percent.
• Research shows that a teen mom's relationship over time with nurses, counselors, social workers, and other medical providers is important in preventing a subsequent pregnancy.
State Policy Options
• Expand Medicaid family planning waivers to provide services to more people. At least 25 states have family planning waivers.
• Understand the role of the federal Title X program that supports comprehensive family planning for low-income people. More than half of Title X clients are under age 24; 25 percent are under age 19, and almost none have incomes above 200 percent of federal poverty guidelines.
• Support programs that encourage teen moms to live with a parent or responsible adult who can provide financial and emotional support. Federal law requires unmarried moms younger than age 18 to live with a parent or in another adult-supervised setting to receive TANF cash assistance.
• Create programs to support teens during and after their first pregnancy (at least until the child reaches age 2) to decrease the chance of a second birth. For example, New York City's Teenage Services Act offers health services and resources on public assistance, education, family planning, parenting and job training to parenting teens currently receiving public assistance.
• Support programs that encourage mothers to complete high school and pursue higher education or job training. Pennsylvania's Pregnant and Parenting Teen Program provides state-funded grants to local school districts to encourage teen parents to finish high school and pursue higher education.
Sources: National Center for Health Statistics, 2005 Natality Special Research File, 2007; National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. By the Numbers: The Public Costs of Teen Childbearing (Washington, D.C.: 2006).