Teen Birth Rates Decline in 2009

Share Article

Though rates are at an all-time low, U.S. rates are up to nine times higher than other developed countries according to CDC Vital Signs Report.

News Image
Preventing teen pregnancy can protect the health and quality of life of teenagers, their children, and their families throughout the United States

During the past 20 years, the rate of teen girls having children has dropped by about 40% to its lowest level since records began being kept 70 years ago. Having a child during the teen years carries high costs—emotional, physical, and financial—to the mother, father, child, and community.

Despite the decline, the U.S. teen birth rate is nearly one and a half times higher than the teen birth rate in the United Kingdom, which has the highest teen birth rate in western Europe. The U.S. rate is nearly three times higher than the teen birth rate in Canada and six to nine times higher than the teen birth rates in Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Switzerland, according to the latest CDC Vital Signs report.

“Though we have made progress in reducing teen pregnancy over the past 20 years, still far too many teens are having babies,” said CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “Preventing teen pregnancy can protect the health and quality of life of teenagers, their children, and their families throughout the United States.”

About 46 percent of teens have had sexual intercourse. About 14 percent of sexually active teen girls and 10 percent of teen boys report that they do not use any type of birth control, the report says. The report finds that teens need sex education, the opportunity to talk with their parents about pregnancy prevention, and those who become sexually active need access to affordable, effective birth control. For teens that are sexually active, two forms of birth control such as condoms for boys, and birth control pills, hormone shots, or an IUD for girls are most effective for preventing pregnancy.

Contraceptive use is lowest and teen childbirth is highest among Hispanic/Latinos and non-Hispanic blacks. Rates also are high among youth of all races and ethnicities who are socioeconomically disadvantaged. Black and Hispanic teen girls are about 2-3 times more likely to give birth than white teens. The percentage of black teen girls ever having sex (58 percent) is higher than for Hispanic (45 percent) and white teen girls (45 percent). The percentage of black teen males ever having sex (72 percent) is greater than that of Hispanics (53 percent) and whites (40 percent).

According to CDC Vital Signs, teen childbearing has a high cost emotionally, physically and financially for the mother, child and their community.

  • About half of teen mothers do not get a high school diploma before the age of 22.
  • Girls born to teen mothers are almost one-third more likely to become teen mothers themselves.
  • Children of teen parents are more likely to have low school achievement, drop out of school, and be teen parents themselves.

Teen pregnancy and childbirth cost U.S. taxpayers an estimated $9 billion each year, approximately $6 billion in lost tax revenue and nearly $3 billion in public expenditures. Reducing teen and unintended pregnancy is a key priority for the Department of Health and Human Services and the focus of a collaborative effort involving many parts of the Department. In support of this effort CDC recommends:

  • Sex education that provides accurate information and is tied to the developmental needs of adolescents.
  • Parents and teens communicate more effectively with each other on issues of sex and teen birth.
  • Sexually active teens have access to affordable and effective birth control.

For more information about preventing teen pregnancy, visit http://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/TeenPregnancy and http://www.hhs.gov/ash/oah/prevention/index.html.

###

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Division of News and Electronic Media
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
(404) 639-3286
Email >
Visit website