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- Definition: Number of births to young women ages 15-19.Number of births per 1,000 young women ages 15-19.
- Data Source: California Dept. of Finance, Race/Ethnic Population with Age and Sex Detail, 1990-1999, 2000-2010, 2010-2060; California Dept. of Public Health, Center for Health Statistics, Birth Statistical Master Files; Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, Natality data on CDC WONDER; Martin et al. (2015), Births: Final Data for 2013. National Vital Statistics Reports, 64(1) (Mar. 2015).
- 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 teen births.
- Measures of Teen Births on Kidsdata.org
On kidsdata.org, data for teen births (overall, by age of mother, and by race/ethnicity) are provided as numbers and rates (i.e., the number of births per 1,000 young women under age 20).
- Teen Births
- Disconnected Youth
- Low Birthweight and Preterm Births
- Prenatal Care
- 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 (1, 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 billions of dollars 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 Databank. (2014). Teen births. Retrieved from: http://www.childtrends.org/?indicators=teen-births
2. The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. (2007). Why it matters: Teen pregnancy and overall child well-being. Retrieved from: http://thenationalcampaign.org/resource/why-it-matters-teen-pregnancy-and-overall-child-wellbeing
3. Ng, A. S., & Kaye, K. (2013). Why it matters: Teen childbearing and child welfare. The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. Retrieved from: http://thenationalcampaign.org/resource/why-it-matters-teen-childbearing-and-child-welfare
4. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. (2015). Healthy People 2020: Family planning. Retrieved from: http://healthypeople.gov/2020/topicsobjectives2020/overview.aspx?topicid=13
5. The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. (2014). Counting it up: Key data. Retrieved from: http://thenationalcampaign.org/resource/public-costs-teen-childbearing-united-states
- How Children Are Faring
The teen birth rate in California decreased by 63% between 1995 and 2013, from 62.9 to 23.2 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 45 teen births per 1,000 young women in 2013. 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 2013.
Trends among racial/ethnic groups can be compared for the period of 2000-2013 (racial definitions changed in 2000). Teen birth rates in California decreased for all racial/ethnic groups during that time. However, large differences remain. In 2013, the teen birth rate among Latina youth was 34.9 per 1,000, compared to 28.9 for American Indian/Alaska Native, 28.3 for African American/Black, 16.5 for multiracial, 9.2 for White, and 4.8 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:
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 Graduation, and Family Income and Poverty.
- 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).
Sources for this narrative:
1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2012). Sexual experience and contraceptive use among female teens—United States, 1995, 2002, and 2006-2010. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 61(17), 297-301. Retrieved from: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6117a1.htm?s_cid=mm6117a1_e
2. Hamilton, B. E., & Ventura, S. J. (2012). Birth rates for U.S. teenagers reach historic lows for all age and ethnic groups (NCHS Data Brief No. 89). National Center for Health Statistics. Retrieved from: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db89.htm
3. Basch, C. E. (2011). Teen pregnancy and the achievement gap among urban minority youth. Journal of School Health, 81(10), 614-618. Retrieved from: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1746-1561.2011.00635.x/full
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. (2013). Vital signs: Repeat births among teens—United States, 2007-2010. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 62(13), 249-255. 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. D. (2010). Winning campaign: California’s concerted effort to reduce its teen pregnancy rate. Guttmacher Policy Review, 13(2), 18-24. Retrieved from: https://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/gpr/13/2/gpr130218.html
- Websites with Related Information
- Adolescent and School Health: Sexual Risk Behaviors, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Adolescent Sexual Health Work Group
- Advocates for Youth
- California Dept. of Public Health: Information and Education Program
- Child Trends: Teen Pregnancy and Reproductive Health
- Guttmacher Institute: United States Teens
- Journal of Adolescent Health
- Power to Decide: The Campaign to Prevent Unplanned Pregnancy
- Reproductive Health: Teen Pregnancy, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Key Reports and Research
- Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health in the United States, 2017, Guttmacher Institute
- California Adolescent Sexual Health Needs Index, 2014, California Dept. of Public Health, Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health Program
- Exploring African-American and Latino Teens' Perceptions of Contraception and Access to Reproductive Health Care Services, 2017, Journal of Adolescent Health, Galloway, C. T., et al.
- How Increasing the Use of Effective Contraception Could Reduce Unintended Pregnancy and Public Health Care Costs, 2017, Child Trends, Welti, K., & Manlove, J.
- Improving the Paradigm of Approaches to Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health, 2016, Reproductive Health, Plourde, K. F., et al.
- Preventing Teen Pregnancy: A Key Role for Health Care Providers, 2015, CDC Vital Signs
- Sexuality Education for Children and Adolescents, 2016, Pediatrics, Breuner, C. C., et. al
- Teen Pregnancy Prevention: Research-Based Policy Recommendations for Executive and Legislative Officials in 2017, Child Trends
- What if You Earned a Diploma and Delayed Parenthood? Intergenerational Simulations of Delayed Childbearing and Increased Education, 2014, Child Trends, Moore, K. A., et al.
- What Works for Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health: Lessons from Experimental Evaluations of Programs and Interventions, 2014, Child Trends, Wasik, H., et al.
- Why We Need Evidence-Based, Community-Wide Approaches for Prevention of Teen Pregnancy, 2017, Journal of Adolescent Health, Barfield, W. D., et al.
- County/Regional Reports
- Community Health Assessment and Community Health Improvement Plan, Los Angeles County Dept. of Public Health
- Important Facts About Kern’s Children, 2018, Kern County Network for Children
- Live Well San Diego Report Card on Children, Families, and Community, 2017, The Children's Initiative & Live Well San Diego
- San Mateo County All Together Better, San Mateo County Health
- Santa Monica Youth Wellbeing Report Card, Santa Monica Cradle to Career
- The 24th Annual Report on the Conditions of Children in Orange County, 2018, Orange County Children's Partnership
- More Data Sources For Teen Births
- 2019 KIDS COUNT Data Book, Annie E. Casey Foundation
- Adolescent Health Data and Statistics, California Dept. of Public Health, Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health Division
- CDC WONDER, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- No Time for Complacency: Teen Births in California, Center for Research on Adolescent Health and Development, Public Health Institute
- Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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