Pregnant Teen Drop Out Rate

Having an unplanned pregnancy while in high school requires major life choices, including whether to drop out of high school. The pregnant teen drop out rate in the U.S. is alarming. Keep reading for statistics on drop out rates, risk factors for pregnant teenagers, and options for these teens. Pregnant teens in high school have a very high drop out rate, though the exact percentage varies by location. Though pregnant teens have many reasons for wanting to drop out, it’s important for their own well being as well as that of their babies for them to complete their education. A good support system is extremely important in helping pregnant teens finish school. 

While the number of pregnant teens has declined over the past decade, in the last couple of years the numbers have started to go up a little. Increased numbers of pregnant teens mean increased numbers of teens dropping out of school, so it’s best to help teens embrace abstinence or use birth control to reduce the risk of pregnancy. 

The statistics on the pregnant teen drop out rate are alarming: 

  • Though nearly 1 million teens get pregnant every year, that number includes teens who are 18 and 19. Teens who are high school age, however, still get pregnant at a rate of about 22 per 1000 students every year.
  • Around 70 percent of pregnant teens drop out of high school, which is a much higher number than the drop out rate for teens who do not become pregnant.
  • Overall, 1 in 4 teen girls does not complete high school in the allotted 4 years. These numbers are higher for minority girls, where up to 50 percent of them don’t finish high school in some areas.
  • At least a third of girls who drop out do so because of teen pregnancy.
  • Latina teens have the highest drop out rate among pregnant teens. 
  • The rates of high school dropouts vary significantly, with Utah having the lowest drop out rate, and Georgia having the highest.
  • Only half of pregnant teen girls who drop out of high school are employed, and those who are employed make significantly less than those who finish high school. Considering that females already usually earn less than males, a female who drops out of high school has a very negative economic outlook for her life.

Pregnant teens have many pressures that may cause them to drop out of high school: 

  • Dealing with morning sickness and other side effects of pregnancy
  • Feeling insecure about their changing appearance
  • Stigmas against pregnant teens from their peers as well as teachers, administrators, and other students’ parents
  • Being subjected to bullying or sexual harassment
  • Inadequate support or encouragement to stay in school
  • Lack of day care after the baby is born
  • Needing to find a job to support their new baby
  • Multiple pregnancies during their teen years

 Among pregnant teens, there are some other risk factors that increase the chances that a pregnant teen will drop out:

  • Low income
  • Poor academic performance
  • Lack of support, especially from parents
  • Speaking English as a second language
  • Being raised by a single parent
  • Having a parent who did not finish high school

Pregnant teens who drop out of school have fewer opportunities for themselves, and their children are also less likely to succeed in school or careers. For this reason, it is important to support and encourage pregnant teens in getting their education. In addition to traditional high school, there are also some other options for pregnant teens in some areas: 

  • Special schools for pregnant or parent teens
  • Tutoring or home school programs to help pregnant teens finish school
  • Accredited online high school programs
  • Night school
  • Getting a GED

Some of the most important things to help pregnant teens finish school are information and support. Teens need someone to tell them about the importance of finishing their education and what options they have to do so. They also need someone to encourage them through the hard times and help them reach their goal. This support can come from a number of sources: 

  • Parents
  • Teachers
  • School counselors
  • Social workers
  • Peer support groups

The support needs to continue after the baby is born if the teen chooses not to put the baby up for adoption, since it is extremely challenging for teens to meet the demands of school as well as the demands of motherhood. In addition, teens may need help developing their sense of self worth and finding goals for themselves that they can pursue in addition to motherhood, such going to college or trade school to get skills and pursue a career. 

Having support from adults who can give them guidance and listen to their concerns as well as peers who can keep them from feeling as socially isolated can help teens avoid dropping out of high school, which gives them and their babies a better chance of success in life. This affects not only the girls and their children, but also society, which pays the cost of teen pregnancy through lowered productivity, higher numbers of people dependant on welfare, and more young people with health or behavior problems. Support should also focus on helping them avoid getting pregnant again. 

Many schools find it difficult to find the best way to help pregnant teens, however, because, while they should not punish teens for getting pregnant, they also should not encourage or condone teen pregnancy, such as by having baby showers at school. Also, it’s important that being supportive does not mean taking away academic expectations or challenges. Pregnant teens should still be expected to work hard and get a good education, but some understanding should be exhibited toward their unique challenges, such as the need for child care and the health problems they may experience. 


Walden University, ConnectEd Issues in Education, “How Many Pregnant Teens Drop Out of High School?” [online]
National Women’s Law Center, “When Girls Don’t Graduate, We All Fail” [online] 
Andrea Orr, Edutopia, “Dealing with Pregnant Teens Is a Balancing Act for Schools” [online] 
LiveStrong, “Teen Pregnancy Rates in the USA” [online] 

STD Statistics

According to STD statistics, teens are more likely to be affected by sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). This article has information and statistics on the most common sexually transmitted diseases such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and more.

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) still afflict the population in general, and they are rather common amongst sexually active teenagers. Indeed, the Guttmacher Institute reports that 48 percent of new cases of STDs each year occur in those aged 15-24. This age group represents only one fourth of the population, yet almost half of the new cases of STDs occur therein. It should therefore not come as a surprise that focus is being put on educating teenagers so that they will have protected sex and hopefully avoid contributing to the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

Some of the most common STDs are Chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis. The Centers for Disease Control offers some statistics on each of these diseases:

Chlamydia statistics

For women, the teen age group – ages 15 to 19 – represented the highest rate of infection. The rate of infection in women is higher than the rate of infection in men. There is speculation that this discrepancy is due to the fact that women are more likely to be screened for any disease, and visit the doctor more regularly, than men in general. This is backed up in part by the fact that the rate of Chlamydia infection has in men has increased by almost 43 percent recently, while there has been only a 17 percent increase for women. The highest rates of Chlamydia in the U.S. can be found in the Western states and in the Southeastern states.

Gonorrhea statistics

Like Chlamydia, gonorrhea is most prevalent amongst women who are between the ages of 15 and 19 and men in the 20 to 24 age group. Increases in the incidence of gonorrhea increased the most in teenagers as well. However, these increases are only slight; for the most part, the rate of gonorrhea has remained relatively stable. The Midwest and the South contain the largest numbers of cases of gonorrhea.

Syphilis Statistics

While syphilis is a sexually transmitted illness that has been thought of as belonging to the past, it is actually on the rise. The South is the region most affected by syphilis, as well as some urban areas. Syphilis is not actually considered much of a threat for teenagers; the highest rate of the disease is seen in 25 to 20 years olds. However, it is important to realize that syphilis can affect fetuses and can even be congenital.

Other STD statistics

There are STDs beyond Chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis, of course. One of the most common STDs is the human papillomavirus (HPV). This is a disease that can lead to cancers – such as cervical. HPV is most often associated with women, and a vaccination has been developed for the virus, in the hopes of protecting young women. HPV is most common in 14 to 19 year olds, and accounts for about half of STDs diagnosed in teenagers. It is the most common STD in the U.S. right now. Herpes and trichomoniasis are both STDs that are declining. Case data is scarce, since these STDs are declining.

Here are some additional facts about STDs, from

  • 20 percent of the people in the U.S. have an STD.
  • It costs $8 billion each year to treat STDs (other than HIV).
  • 80 percent of those with genital herpes do not know that they are infected. This probably accounts for the lack of case data on this particular STD.
  • 15 percent of infertile women can trace their condition to untreated cases of the STD known as pelvic inflammatory disease.
  • The STD Hepatitis B is more infectious than HIV.

With 18.9 million cases of new infection by sexually transmitted illnesses each year (according to the Guttmacher Institute) – and more than 9 million of these occurring in teenagers – it is no surprise that efforts to educate teens about safer sex practices are underway. Since many teens say that they would have sex – even without protection – many feel that making sure that kids have adequate education and access to protection is a high priority.

Teenage Birth Rates

Teenage birth rates have gone up and down over the last 60+ years. Where do the teenage birth rates stand now? The statistics point to a downward trend, which hopefully can be continued in the coming years. Keep reading for more on teenage birth rates.

From 1940 to 1957 the teenage birth rate climbed a staggering 78 percent. It then dropped until the mid-1980s when it jumped 24 percent. Then in the early 1990s, it began to decline and has continued to decline since. What has helped fuel this decline in the recent years?

Research is pointing to teenage pregnancy prevention programs, contraception availability and just overall more education on the problems associated with teenage pregnancy and unsafe sex to the drop in numbers. In looking at a state-by-state comparison, the drop in numbers varies (please see the article on teen pregnancy statistics for more information). As of 2004, the number of live births to teenage mothers across the United States was 415,408. And the number of births to teenagers in the United States aged 15-19 was 41.2 out of a 1,000.

Unfortunately the United States still has the highest rate of teenage pregnancies when compared to other counties of similar status. Some have questioned this because they do not feel the teenagers in the United States are any more sexually active teens then those in similar countries. It goes back to education about sex and pregnancy prevention within the schools and homes. More should and can be done to help the teenage birth rates decline even more.

Teenagers who have babies are more likely to not finish high school and have their future plans interrupted. This leads to less income and more people in poverty. Also, babies born to teenager moms have a more likely chance of having a low birth weight and this can lead to all sorts of medical problems later in life. And if these children grow up in homes where their families have a hard time supporting them, they grow up in poverty and do not always have access to good and sometimes any healthcare.

Teaching teenagers about safe teen sex and the problems associated with pregnancy can go a long way in helping the teenager birth rate to continue to drop. Some scholars point out that more readily available contraception can help teenagers make safe sex decisions while still others feel this will only aggravate the problem. The only true way to avoid sexually-transmitted diseases and pregnancy is abstinence. However not everyone values abstinence so pregnancy prevention programs also promote safe sex practices.

Teenage Birth Rates Sources:

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics, Fastats, “Teen Births” [online].
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics, “Teenage Births in the United States: State Trends, 1991-2000, an Update” [online].
  • Cool, by Victor C. Strasburger, “Teen Pregnancy Rates in the USA” [online].
  •, The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancies, “Teen Birth Rates in the United States, 1940-2004” [pdf online].
  •, “Preventing Teen Pregnancy: Why it Matters” [pdf online].

Teen Pregnancy Statistics

The United States has the highest rates of teenage pregnancy and teen births in the western industrialized world. Teen pregnancy costs the United States at least $7 billion annually. Keep reading for more interesting facts on teen pregnancy statistics.

The fact that just under 1/3 of all girls in the United States will get pregnant in their teenage years is a sobering thought. Obviously, teen pregnancy is a problem in the United States. And the following teen pregnancy statistics back that up: 

  • Every year around 750,000 teenagers will get pregnant. 
  • Depending on the state, teenage birth rates are incredibly different. Nevada has the highest rate: 113 per 1000 and North Dakota the lowest 42 per 1000. 
  • Unmarried teenagers having children account for 24 percent of all unmarried expectant mothers. 
  • More than 2/3 of all teenagers who have a baby will not graduate from high school, hence the correlation with teenage pregnancy and education. 
  • Billions of dollars are spent taking care of teenage mothers and their children and they are more likely to be in the poverty bracket. On the flip side, millions of dollars are spent in prevention programs.

The good news is that teen birth rates have dropped by almost a third since the beginning of the 1990s. With pregnancy prevention programs and more understanding and teaching about safe teen sex, this number will hopefully drop even more. Here are a few other statistics that hopefully point to even better prevention rates in the years to come: 

  • In 2002 the abortion rate among teenager mother was 50 percent lower than its high point in 1988. 
  • Among black teenagers, the pregnancy rate dropped around 40 percent since 1990. 
  • Among Hispanic teenagers the pregnancy rate dropped around 19 percent since 1990. 
  • Among white teenagers, the pregnancy rate dropped around 34 percent since 1990.

So while teenager pregnancies are dropping, it is still a constant problem as there are more and more kids who enter their teenager years each year. Teenager pregnancy programs are important to as the above statistics are showing that these programs yield good results. These programs should be continually studied to make sure they are up-to-date and working in the education of teenagers on the problems of teenager pregnancy.

One way of making sure to keep the programs fresh is to talk with the teenagers themselves, asking what they think about sex and how it is portrayed in their school life, by their friends, in their families, and in the media. How much do each of these contribute to how a teenager views sex? Parents and educators are in a position to somewhat monitor how sex and especially unsafe or unprotected sex is being digested by the teenagers today. As more questions are answered and prevention programs initiated and/or updated, hopefully these statistics can continually to fall.

As mentioned above, billions of dollars are spent taking care of teenage mothers and their children while only millions are needed to provide good prevention program. For more information on teenage pregnancy prevention, see the Preventing Teenage Pregnancy article on this site.

Teen Pregnancy Statistics Sources:

  • Department of Health and Human Services: Office of Public Health and Services, “Office of Adolescent Pregnancy Programs” [online].
  • Guttmacher Institute, “U.S. Teenage Pregnancy Statistics National and State Trends and Trends by Race and Ethnicity” [pdf online].
  • National Center for Health Statistics, “National Vital Statistics Reports, Volume 55, Number 1” [pdf online]. 
  •, “Preventing Teen Pregnancy: Why it Matters” [pdf online].
  •, “So What?” [online].