Teen Behavior Sex Pregnancy

Teen pregnancy is a controversial subject. While preventing teen pregnancy is a goal shared by many groups–from public health workers to politicians–ideas on how best to reduce teen pregnancy differ greatly. Opinions also vary on the best ways to help pregnant teens and teenage mothers. As with any complex matter, getting the facts is an important first step to understanding the problem.

Pregnancy Rates Among Teens

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (2010), from 1991 to 2005, teen pregnancy rates in the United States steadily declined year over year. Back in 1990, the number of pregnancies per 1,000 teenage girls (ages 15 to 19) was 116. By 2005, that number had dropped to around 70. Many researchers attribute the majority of this decline to increased use of contraceptives among teens, but increased abstinence is another contributing factor to decreasing rates of teenage pregnancy.

Statistics indicate, however, that this trend may be coming to end. After over a decade of decreasing rates, The March of Dimes (2010) reports that teen pregnancy and teen birth rates went up in 2006 and again in 2007. The reason for this reverse in the trend is a matter of debate, but some organizations blame sex education programs that focus on abstinence rather than contraception.

So far, the data that have been seen since 2008 suggest that teen pregnancy rates are falling. It remains to be seen if this shift in direction will continue.

Risks for Pregnant Teens

Pregnancies among teenagers tend to be higher risk than pregnancies among women in their 20s and 30s. These risks affect the health of both the mother and child. Some of the complications that are more common in teen pregnancies than in other age groups are:

  • Anemia
  • High blood pressure
  • Low birth rate
  • Premature birth.

One reason that teens may have more difficulties during pregnancy than adult women is because they are less likely to receive early prenatal care. Most teenage pregnancies are unintentional, and many girls may avoid seeing a doctor or may not have easy access to medical care. Pregnant teens are also more likely than women in other age groups to smoke and drink during pregnancy, which contributes to some of the complications listed above.

The Realities of Teenage Motherhood

The March of Dimes (2010) also reports that teenagers that start a family before the age of 18 are much more likely to drop out of high school then their peers. Consequently, teen moms tend to have lower-paying jobs than their classmates that waited to have children. They are also more likely to live in poverty and need public assistance.

The facts about teen pregnancy highlight the need for effective pregnancy prevention programs, active parenting and proper medical care and health education for all teens.


American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (2010). US teen birth rates still highest among industrialized nations. Retrieved August 22, 2010, from http://www.acog.org/from_home/publications/press_releases/nr05-03-10-2.cfm

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2010). Preventing teen pregnancy: an update in 2009. Retrieved August 22, 2010, from http://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/adolescentreprohealth/AboutTP.htm

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2010). Teen birth rates rose again in 2007, declined in 2008. Retrieved August 22, 2010, from http://www.cdc.gov/Features/dsTeenPregnancy/

March of Dimes Foundation. (2009). Quick reference: fact sheets – teenage pregnancy. Retrieved August 22, 2010, from http://www.marchofdimes.com/professionals/14332_1159.asp

Peck, P. (2010). Teen pregnancies on the rise again. Retrieved August 22, 2010, from http://abcnews.go.com/Health/ReproductiveHealth/teen-pregnancies-rise-experts-debate-reasons/story?id=9668045

Santelli, J., Duberstein Lindberg, L., Finer, L., Singh, S. (2007). Explaining Recent Declines in Adolescent Pregnancy in the United States: the Contribution of Abstinence and Improved Contraceptive Use. American Journal of Public Health. 97(1):150-156

The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. (2010). Teen pregnancy rates in the United States, 1988-2006. Retrieved August 22, 2010, from http://www.thenationalcampaign.org/resources/pdf/Briefly_TeenPregRates_1988-2006.pdf