In 2009, a total of  409,840 infants were born to 15−19 year olds, for a live birth rate of 39.1 per 1,000 women in this age group. Nearly two-thirds of births to women younger than age 18 and more than half of those among 18−19 year olds are unintended. The US teen birth rate fell by more than one-third from 1991 through 2005, but then increased by 5 percent over two consecutive years. Data for 2008 and 2009, however, indicate that the long-term downward trend has resumed. The U.S. teen pregnancy and birth, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and abortion rates are substantially higher than those of other western industrialized nations.

Teen pregnancy and childbearing bring substantial social and economic costs through immediate and long-term impacts on teen parents and their children.

Teen pregnancy accounts for more than $9 billion per year in costs to U.S. taxpayers for increased health care and foster care, increased incarceration rates among children of teen parents, and lost tax revenue because of lower educational attainment and income among teen mothers. Pregnancy and birth are significant contributors to high school drop out rates among girls. Only about 50% of teen mothers receive a high school diploma by age 22, versus nearly 90% of women who had not given birth during adolescence.

The children of teenage mothers are more likely to have lower school achievement and drop out of high school, have more health problems, be incarcerated at some time during adolescence, give birth as a teenager, and face unemployment as a young adult.    These effects remain for the teen mother and her child even after adjusting for those factors that increased the teenager’s risk for pregnancy; such as, growing up in poverty, having parents with low levels of education, growing up in a single-parent family, and having low attachment to and performance in school.

Teen pregnancy prevention is one of  the Center for Disease Prevention and Control's (CDC)  top six priorities, a “winnable battle” in public health and of paramount importance to health and quality of life for our youth.

Evidence-based teen pregnancy prevention programs typically address specific protective factors on the basis of  knowledge, skills, beliefs, or attitudes related to teen pregnancy.  Topics that should be included in a pregnancy prevention programs are:

  • Knowledge of sexual issues, HIV, other STDs, and pregnancy (including methods of prevention).
  • Perception of HIV risk.
  • Personal values about sex and abstinence.
  • Attitudes toward condoms (pro and con).
  • Perception of peer norms and behavior about sex.
  • Individual ability to refuse sex and to use condoms.
  • Intent to abstain from sex, or limit number of partners.
  • Communication with parents or other adults about sex, condoms, and contraception.
  • Individual ability to avoid HIV/STD risk and risk behaviors.
  • Avoidance of places and situations that might lead to sex.
  • Intent to use a condom.

Non-Hispanic black youth, Hispanic/Latino youth, American Indian/Alaska Native youth, and socioeconomically disadvantaged youth of any race or ethnicity experience the highest rates of teen pregnancy and childbirth. Together, black and Hispanic youth comprise nearly 60% of U.S. teen births in 2009, although they represent only 35% of the total population of 15–19 year old females. CDC is focusing on these priority populations because of the need for greater public health efforts to improve the life trajectories of adolescents facing significant health disparities, as well as to have the greatest impact on overall U.S. teen birth rates. Other priority populations for CDC’s teen pregnancy prevention efforts include youth in foster care and the juvenile justice system, and otherwise living in conditions of risk.

Sources:  CDC, National Vital Statistics Reports and the Guttmacher Institute.




Great blog! I was surprised to learn a few months ago that about 50% of all pregnancies in the United States are unintended! This includes women that already have families. Unfortunately legislative leaders are currently pushing against programs that could help prevent unintended pregnancy in teens. If you are interested in this topic the Guttmacher Institute ( has a ton of non-biased information and fact sheets on sexual and reproductive health worldwide with an entire section on adolescent reproductive health. Thanks for sharing!

It is true teens are getting pregnant earlier all the time. It is a reflection on the adults who give them such a great example. NOT

interesting article and especially interesting to think about the implications that teen pregnancy has on society - i.e lost tax revenue and unemployment. I never thought about that. Thank you for an interesting read.

No matter how progressive a society is, unwed teen pregnancy is regarded negatively. If the mother happens to be a teenager, the problems become more acute. Education of the mother suffers the most as she drops out of school

Teen pregnancy is definitely a touchy subject in today's society. I cannot comment on how frequently it happens today versus in recent decades but it definitely gets a lot more publicity than in the past. One sad thing about teen pregnancies is that more often than not the mother is left as a single parent or the father does not wish to stay with the mother. One site that I have seen to greatly help with shared parenting is If you are in this situation or you know someone in this situation do your research and find out what you can do for yourself. This is a great post. Thanks for taking the time to give out this info.

Yes we have the same pregnancy problems in the UK, the last few years have seen things escalate. In fact the UK is worse than some third world countries. So much for the educated society. Regards

Nice article. I have been absent for a while, but now I remember why I used to love this website. Thanks, I’ll try and check back more often. How often do you update your blog?... EDITOR's NOTE: We update the 3-4 times per week. If you click on the RSS feed, our blogs can come directly to your email! Glad you like us!

This post is indeed true. Numbers of teen unwanted pregnancies are also common problem here. Though it is not good in Filipino culture nothing can stop this from happening. Parent's has the greater responsibility for their children.

These statistics are frightening, but at least recent studies show that these numbers are going down year by year, at least in the US.

Same pregnancy problems in Spain. Government offers girls for free a pill called "the day after", so if a girl believes that she can be pregnant she can ask for it. But only is useful 24 hours after.

Those stats are very frightening. "Teen pregnancy accounts for more than $9 billion per year in costs to U.S. taxpayers" - I bet education/prevention is much cheaper than that. It always seems an uphill battle to convince people to spend a little money to save a lot.

Very interesting read. Here in the UK the government have announced that most of the unwanted babies are conceived over the Christmas holiday. In an attempt to combat the problem of unwanted infants theyreleased a campaign to encourage young women to stock up on the morning after pill prior to the festive period.

I support pregnancy teaching programs for teens. The more they are aware the better prepared they are. It also takes away the "forbidden fruit" factor in psychology.

Valuable research I suppose, but I doubt it was so questionable as to whether teen pregnancies were unintended or not. Seems pretty easy a mystery to solve!

Great article! I think it is very important to address this because there are way too many underage girls getting pregnant and dropping out of schools, which can in turn hurt their future a great deal. Excellent read overall, thank you.

"Nearly two-thirds of births to women younger than age 18 and more than half of those among 18−19 year olds are unintended." I would have thought unintended pregnancies would amount to 20-40% but two-thirds is quite alarming. Looks like more education is needed.