Download & Other Tools
- Definition: Number of births per 1,000 young women ages 15-19, by race/ethnicity of mother.Number of births to young women ages 15-19, by race/ethnicity of mother.
- Data Source: California Dept. of Public Health, Center for Health Statistics, Birth Statistical Master Files; California Dept. of Finance, Race/Ethnic Population with Age and Sex Detail, 1990-1999, 2000-2050, http://www.dof.ca.gov (Mar. 2012); Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, Natality data on WONDER (Mar. 2012).
- Footnote: The county-level data reflect the mother's county of residence, not the county in which the birth occurred. LNE (Low Number Event) refers to data that have been suppressed because there were fewer than 20 cases. N/A means that data are not available. For example, data for "Multiracial" teens are not available prior to 2000. Use caution in comparing racial/ethnic groups before and after 2000, as the racial definitions changed that year.
- Disconnected Youth
- Low Birthweight and Preterm Births
- Prenatal Care
- Teen Births
- Teen Sexual Health
- Why This Topic Is Important
Infants of teen mothers are at higher risk for physical, social, and emotional challenges than infants of mothers in their 20s and early 30s (1). Teen mothers are more likely to have babies born prematurely or with low birthweight. They also are more likely to have babies who die in infancy, compared to mothers in their 20s and 30s (1). Children born to teen mothers are at increased risk for academic and behavioral problems, such as lower math and reading achievement and poorer motor, communication, and social skills (1, 2). In addition, children born to teens are more likely to enter the foster care system and to become teen parents themselves than children born to older mothers (3). Of course, not all children born to teens face these difficulties, and many go on to lead productive and healthy lives.
Giving birth as a teenager also can create disadvantages for the mother and the father. Teen mothers are more likely to become welfare dependent than other teens (1), and teen parenthood for both mothers and fathers is associated with lower educational attainment and lower income levels (4). Fiscal hardship can be compounded by the fact that teen mothers are less likely to be married or stay married, which may mean covering family expenses on their own (1). However, it is important to note that some teen parents are able to manage these challenges successfully, become competent parents, and reach their educational or career goals later in life.
Research estimates that teen births cost society at least $10.9 billion annually, most of which is associated with negative outcomes for the children of teen parents, including increased costs for health care, foster care, incarceration, lost productivity, and tax revenue (1, 5).
See kidsdata.org's Research & Links section for more information about teen births.
Sources for this narrative:
1. Child Trends. (2010). Teen births. Retrieved from: http://www.childtrends.org/?indicators=teen-births
2. Terry-Humen, E., Manlove, J., & Moore, K. A. (2005). Playing catch-up: How children born to teen mothers fare. Washington, DC: National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. Retrieved from: http://www.teenpregnancy.org/works/pdf/PlayingCatchUp.pdf
3. The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. (2010). Why it matters: Teen pregnancy and child welfare. Retrieved from: http://www.thenationalcampaign.org/why-it-matters/pdf/child_welfare.pdf
4. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2011). Healthy People 2020: Family planning. Retrieved from: http://healthypeople.gov/2020/topicsobjectives2020/overview.aspx?topicid=13
5. The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unwanted Pregnancy. (2011). Counting it up: The public costs of teen childbearing. Retrieved from: http://www.thenationalcampaign.org/costs/default.aspx
- How Children Are Faring
The teen birth rate in California decreased by 55% between 1995 and 2011, from 62.9 to 28.0 per 1,000 young women ages 15-19. This decline was evident at the county level, as well; teen birth rates dropped in all counties with available data during this period. Despite this decrease, many counties continue to have high rates, with some exceeding 50 teen births per 1,000 young women in 2011. The majority of the state’s teen births are to women ages 18 to 19, though rates declined for all teen age groups (under 15, 15-17, and 18-19) from 1995 to 2011.
Trends among racial/ethnic groups can be compared for the period of 2000-2010 (racial definitions changed in 2000). Teen birth rates in California decreased for all racial/ethnic groups during that time. However, large differences by race/ethnicity remain. In 2010, the teen birth rate among Latina youth was 45.0 per 1,000, compared to 34.0 for African American/Black, 25.4 for multiracial, 22.2 for American Indian/Alaska Native, 10.9 for white, and 7.3 for Asian/Pacific Islander teens.
- Policy Implications
The teen birth rate in the U.S. is at its lowest level in seven decades, but it still is higher than the teen birth rates of other developed nations (1, 2, 3). Early sexual activity and ineffective or non-use of contraceptives contribute to teen births (3, 4, 5). Children of teen moms are more likely to be born prematurely or at a low birthweight, and they tend to have poorer academic and behavioral outcomes than children born to older mothers (4). Teen mothers are less likely to complete high school or go to college compared to older mothers (3, 4). Also, nearly one in five teen births is a repeat birth, meaning many teen parents have multiple children before they are 20 (5). Government at all levels—including the school-district—as well as the health care sector, media, advocacy organizations, parents, and peers can influence teen sexual activity, pregnancy, and births.
According to research and subject experts, policy options that could influence teen births include:
- Funding and empowering school districts to provide proven, curriculum-based teen pregnancy prevention programs that encourage both delaying sexual activity and informed use of contraception among sexually active teens; programs should be offered during and after school (3, 4, 6, 7)
- Funding youth development programs that encourage teens to think about and plan for their futures and engage them in their communities (3, 4, 5, 7)
- Funding home visiting and health interventions targeted at preventing subsequent pregnancies for teen mothers (4, 5, 7)
- Ensuring access to quality prenatal care and infant care and support for teen parents via youth-friendly clinical services (4)
For more policy ideas and research on this topic, see kidsdata.org’s Research & Links section, or visit The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, The Guttmacher Institute, or the California Adolescent Health Collaborative. Also see Policy Implications on kidsdata.org under Low Birthweight and Preterm Births, Teen Sexual Health, Dating and Domestic Violence, High School Dropouts, and Poverty.
Sources for this narrative:
1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. (2012). Sexual experience and contraceptive use among female teens—United States, 1995, 2002, and 2006-2010. Retrieved from: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6117a1.htm?s_cid=mm6117a1_e
2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2012). NCHS data brief, no 89: Birth rates for U.S. teenagers reach historic lows for all age and ethnic groups. Retrieved from: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db89.htm
3. Basch, C. (2011). Teen pregnancy and the achievement gap among urban minority youth. Journal of School Health, 81(10), 614-618. Retrieved from: http://www.rmc.org/wpdev/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Teen-Pregnancy-and-the-Achievement-Gap-Among-Urban-Minority-Youth.pdf
4. Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy. (2008). Teenage births: Outcomes for young parents and their children. Retrieved from: http://www.scaany.org/documents/teen_pregnancy_dec08.pdf
5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. (2013). Vital signs: Repeat births among teens—United States 2007-2010. Retrieved from: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6213a4.htm?s_cid=mm6213a4_w
6. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Adolescent Health. (2010). Programs for replication – Intervention implementation reports. Retrieved from: http://www.hhs.gov/ash/oah/oah-initiatives/tpp/index.html
7. Boonstra, H. (2010). Winning campaign: California’s concerted effort to reduce its teen pregnancy rate. Guttmacher Policy Review, 13(2). Retrieved from: https://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/gpr/13/2/gpr130218.html
- Websites with Related Information
- Advocates for Youth
- Child Trends: Teen Pregnancy/Reproductive Health
- Guttmacher Institute: Adolescents
- Journal of Adolescent Health
- No Time for Complacency: Teen Births in California, Center for Research on Adolescent Health and Development, Public Health Institute
- Teen Pregnancy Prevention, California Department of Public Health
- The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy
- Key Reports
- A Policy Platform to Promote Health and Success Among Young Families, Healthy Teen Network
- Avoiding Adolescent Pregnancy: A Longitudinal Analysis of African-American Youth, Journal of Adolescent Health
- Discussions about Contraception or STDs Prior to Sex, Child Trends
- Sexual and Reproductive Health Behaviors Among Teen and Young Adult Men, Child Trends
- Sociocultural Determinants of Teenage Childbearing Among Latinas in California, Maternal and Child Health Journal
- State Disparities in Teenage Birth Rates in the United States, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Teen Births in California: A Resource for Planning and Policy, California Department of Public Health & Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health at UCSF
- Teenagers in the United States: Sexual Activity, Contraceptive Use, and Childbearing, 2006–2010 National Survey of Family Growth, National Center for Health Statistics
- The High Cost of Unintended Pregnancy, Center on Children and Families at Brookings
- Trends and Recent Estimates: Contraceptive Use Among U.S. Teens and Young Adults, Child Trends
- County/Regional Reports
- Kern County Report Card, Kern County Network for Children
- San Diego County Report Card on Children & Families
- Tulare County Children’s Report Card 2010, Children's Services Network