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 Nurse.com, by Victor C. Strasburger, “Teen Pregnancy Rates in the USA” [online].
  • TeenPregnancy.org, The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancies, “Teen Birth Rates in the United States, 1940-2004” [pdf online].
  • TeenPregnancy.org, “Preventing Teen Pregnancy: Why it Matters” [pdf online].