In The Know Zone

teen pregnancy basics

Teen Pregnancy Overview

Approximately 900,000 teenage girls become pregnant in the U.S. every year [1] —78 percent of them unintentionally. [2] That represents 10 percent of girls under 20 and 19 percent of sexually active teenage girls. [3]

The good news is that teen pregnancies are down significantly from their 1980 high of 1,180,000. [4] The bad news is that we still have by far the highest levels of teen pregnancy in the industrialized world—roughly 86 pregnancies for each 1,000 teenage females. [5] Canada, by comparison, has a rate of about 31 pregnancies per 1,000 girls, [6] while rates in Germany, France and the Netherlands, respectively, are 16, 20 and nine percent. [7] Teenage birth and abortion rates show very similar disparities. [8]

The economic impact of teen pregnancy is enormous.  The federal government alone spends some $40 billion a year helping families that began with a teenage birth. [9]

The human cost is incalculable:

  • The father abandons the pregnant girl 90 percent of the time [10] and pays, on average, less than $800 annually in child support [11]
  • Thirty percent of pregnant teens will undergo an abortion [12]
  • About 14 percent of teen pregnancies end in miscarriages [13]
  • Teen mothers are more likely to deliver prematurely and to have low birth weight babies, with accompanying risks of infant death, blindness, deafness, retardation, mental illness and other permanent problems [14]
  • Poverty is almost inevitable for an unmarried teenage mother: more than 75 percent are on welfare within five years of the birth of their first child [15]
  • Virtually all the increase in child poverty in recent years is attributable to the increase in unmarried childbearing [16]
  • Only about one teenage mother in four ever completes high school [17]
  • Women whose first child was born after age 20 were up to eight times as likely to have some college education as those whose first pregnancy was prior to age 20 [18]
  • Seven out of ten marriages fail among women who had a baby while in their teens. [19]
  • A child born to an unwed teen high school dropout is ten times more likely than other children to be living in poverty by the time he or she is finishing grade school [20]
  • Children born to teenage mothers are 50 percent more likely to repeat a grade in school, have lower standardized test scores, and are more likely to drop out of high school than those born to older women [21]
  • The sons of teenage mothers are 13 percent more likely to end up in prison [22]
  • The daughters of teen mothers are 22 percent more likely to become teen mothers themselves [23]

[1] U.S. Teenage Pregnancy Statistics With Comparative Statistics for Women Aged 20-24, The Alan Gutmacher Institute, pp. 5-6, 2004, available at www.agi-usa.org/pubs/teen_stats.html. Accessed 12/21/2004.

[2] Facts in Brief: Teen Sex and Pregnancy, The Alan Gutmacher Institute, p.2, 1999, available at www.agi-usa.org/pubs/fb_teen_sex.pdf., Accessed 12/10/2004

[3] Ibid.

[4] U.S. Teenage Pregnancy Statistics With Comparative Statistics for Women Aged 20-24, pp 5-6

[5] Ibid.

[6] Statistics Canada, Canada Records Fewer Teen Pregnancies, More Pregnancies Among Older Women, 30 October 2004, The Toronto Globe and Mail, available at www.medicalnewstoday.com/medicalnews.php?newsid=15672. Accessed 12/10/2004

[7] Adolescent Sexual Health in Europe and the U.S.—Why the Difference?, pp. 1-2 Advocates for Youth, available at www.advocatesforyouth.org/publications/factsheet/fsest.htm.  Accessed 12/22/2004

[8] Ibid.

[9] Teen Pregnancy—So What? P. 5, 2002, The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy,  available at www.teenpregnancy.org/whycare/sowhat.asp. Accessed 12/15/2004

[10] Grohol, J., About Premarital Sex, Psych Central, 1999-2004, p. 5, available at www.paychcentral.com/psyhelp/chap10/chap10u.htm. Accessed 12/15/2004

[11] Not Just Another Single Issue: Teen Pregnancy, Welfare Dependency and Poverty, The National Center to Prevent Teen Poverty,  2002, available at http://www.teenpregnancy.org/resources/data/pdf/notjust.pdf. Accessed 12/1/2004

[12] Facts in Brief: Teen Sex and Pregnancy

[13] Ibid. (NOTE: While the miscarriage rate for teens is similar to that for adult women, their immaturity leaves them even more vulnerable to the emotional and psychological effects of the loss.)

[14] Teen Pregnancy—So What?

[15] Ibid.

[16] Not Just Another Single Issue: Teen Pregnancy, Welfare Dependency and Poverty

[17] Ibid.

[18] Klepinger, D, et. al., Adolescent Fertility and the Educational Attainment of Young Women. Family Planning Perspectives, Volume 27, No. 1, pp. 7-8, January/February 1995, available at http://www.agi-usa.org/pubs/journals/2702395.html. Accessed 12/23/2004

[19] Not Just Another Single Issue: Teen Pregnancy, Out-of-Wedlock Births, and Marriage

[20] Teenage Pregnancy, The March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation,  2004, available at www.marchofdimes.com/printableArticles/681_1159.asp?printable=true. Accessed 12/23/2004

[21] Not Just Another Single Issue: Teen Pregnancy and Child Well-Being

[22] Ibid.

[23] Ibid.

 

 

In The Know: At Risk Pamphlet/ DVD Package
In The Know: At Risk DVD Package