Why do we measure teen births?
Around 75% of teen births in the U.S. are unintended, and while the teen pregnancy rate has declined in recent years, the U.S. still has the highest percentage of pregnant teens of all Western industrialized countries.(1-3)
There are significant economic and health consequences for teens and their babies. Pregnant teens are more likely to have medical complications during their pregnancy, and their children are often born earlier and at a low birthweight.(5,6) Teens who give birth are also more likely to experience poor physical health later in life and, according to some evidence, poor mental health.(7) They are less likely to complete high school, which limits their employment opportunities and income-earning potential in the future.(8)
How do we measure teen births?
This metric includes any birth to a teen aged 15 through 19.
Strengths of Metric
Limitations of Metric
Teen births provide, in one metric, information on two vulnerable populations: teens who give birth and their children.
Measuring and monitoring teen birth rates can help identify the need for evidence-based interventions, including sexual health education and promotion of contraceptive use, and social, economic, and health care support for teens and their children.(9)
This metric only analyzes teen births, not teen pregnancies and does not include pregnancies that did not result in a live birth.(10)
This metric does not include births to teens younger than age 15. Although they represent a relatively small proportion of teen births, younger parents are much more likely to experience social, economic, and health burdens.(10)
Teen births are calculated by the following formula:
Teen births=[Births to teensaged 15-19]/Total female population aged 15-19 x 1,000
This metric was calculated by aggregating estimates from smaller geographies to the congressional district level. Please see the Congressional District Health Dashboard Technical Document for more details.
Estimates for this metric are from Natality Data from the National Vital Statistics System of the National Center for Health Statistics.
Mosher WD, Jones J, Abma JC. Intended and unintended births in the United States: 1982-2010. National health statistics reports. 2012(55):1-28.
Sedgh G, Finer LB, Bankole A, Eilers MA, Singh S. Adolescent pregnancy, birth, and abortion rates across countries: levels and recent trends. J Adolesc Health. 2015;56(2):223-230.
Martin JA, Hamilton BE, Osterman MJ. Births in the United States, 2015. NCHS data brief. 2016(258):1-8.
National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. Counting it up: The public costs of teen childbearing: key data. Washington, DC: National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy;2013.
Matthews TJ, MacDorman MF, Thoma ME. Infant Mortality Statistics From the 2013 Period Linked Birth/Infant Death Data Set. National vital statistics reports : from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics, National Vital Statistics System. 2015;64(9):1-30.
Klein JD. Adolescent pregnancy: current trends and issues. Pediatrics. 2005;116(1):281-286.
Patel PH, Sen B. Teen motherhood and long-term health consequences. Maternal and child health journal. 2012;16(5):1063-1071.
Hofferth SL, Reid L, Mott FL. The effects of early childbearing on schooling over time. Family planning perspectives. 2001;33(6):259-267.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Social Determinants and Eliminating Disparities in Teen Pregnancy. https://www.cdc.gov/teenpregnancy/about/social-determinants-disparities-teen-pregnancy.htm. Updated October 26, 2017. Accessed February 21, 2018.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vital signs: teen pregnancy--United States, 1991--2009. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2011;60(13):414-420.
Last updated: January 24, 2023