Teen Births, by Race/Ethnicity

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Learn More About Teen Births

Measures of Teen Births on Kidsdata.org
On kidsdata.org, teen births data are available as numbers and rates per 1,000 young women overall, by age group (14 and under, 15-17, 18-19), and by mother's race/ethnicity.
Teen Births
Demographics
Breastfeeding
Low Birthweight and Preterm Births
Prenatal Care
Teen Sexual Health
Why This Topic Is Important
Adolescent births are associated with serious challenges and negative outcomes for the parents, their children, and society overall. Teen mothers are more likely than mothers in their 20s and early 30s to have premature births, infants with low birthweight, and babies who die in infancy (1, 2). Children of teens also are at increased risk for physical, behavioral, cognitive, and academic challenges later in life (2, 3). Children born to teens are more likely to drop out of high school, enter the criminal justice system in adolescence, become teen parents themselves, and experience unemployment in adulthood compared with children born to older mothers (2, 3).

Giving birth as a teenager can create disadvantages for the mother and father as well. Teen mothers are more likely to become welfare dependent, and teen parenthood in general is associated with lower educational attainment and lower income levels (2, 3). Fiscal hardship can be compounded by the fact that teen mothers are less likely to be married, which may mean covering family expenses on their own (1). However, some teen parents are able to manage these challenges successfully, become competent parents, and reach their educational and career goals.

It is estimated that adolescent births cost society billions of dollars annually, due to lost productivity and costs related to health care, foster care, and incarceration (2, 3).
See kidsdata.org's Research & Links section for more information about teen births.

Sources for this narrative:

1.  Martin, J. A., et al. (2018). Births: Final data for 2017. National Vital Statistics Reports, 67(8). Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr67/nvsr67_08-508.pdf

2.  Youth.gov. (n.d.). Pregnancy prevention: Adverse effects. Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs. Retrieved from: https://youth.gov/youth-topics/pregnancy-prevention/adverse-effects-teen-pregnancy

3.  U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Healthy People 2020: Family planning. Retrieved from: https://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/topics-objectives/topic/family-planning?topicid=13
How Children Are Faring
The birth rate among California teens decreased by 75% between 1995 and 2016, from 62.9 births per 1,000 young women ages 15-19 to 15.7 per 1,000. This decline was evident at the county level as well, as teen birth rates dropped in all counties with data during this period. Despite these improvements, many counties continue to have high rates, with some exceeding 30 births per 1,000 teens in 2016. The majority of teen births statewide are to women ages 18-19, though rates have declined for all age groups (under 15, 15-17, and 18-19) since 1995.

Trends among California racial/ethnic groups can be compared beginning in 2000. Since then, teen birth rates have decreased for all groups with data. Nevertheless, large differences remain; e.g., in 2016, the teen birth rate among Hispanic/Latina teens was 23.7 per 1,000, compared with 17.8 for American Indian/Alaska Native, 17.6 for African American/black, 11.6 for multiracial, 6.2 for white, and 2.5 for Asian/Pacific Islander teens.
Policy Implications
The birth rate among U.S. teens is at its lowest level on record, yet still is higher than rates in other developed nations (1). Adolescent childbearing puts teen mothers and their children at increased risk for negative health, social, academic, and economic outcomes (1, 2, 3). Societal costs related to teen births are estimated in the billions of dollars per year (1, 2). Policies to prevent teen pregnancy have been shown to have a positive return on investment, saving public costs in the long run (2).

California's teen birth rate also is at an historic low, though disparities persist by region and race/ethnicity (4). While the state has made significant progress, continued work is needed to maintain recent gains and eliminate inequities. Policymakers can play a role by creating and extending legislation—such as the California Healthy Youth Act—aimed at preventing teen births and promoting adolescent health, funding evidence-based teen pregnancy prevention programs in schools, clinics, and community settings, improving access to quality health care and family planning services, and addressing social determinants of health such as income inequality (1, 2, 5).

Government at all levels—including school districts—as well as the health care sector, community organizations, advocates, media, parents, and peers all can influence teen sexual activity and pregnancy. Strategies to prevent teen births can be strengthened by working collaboratively across sectors and tailoring approaches to fit the specific needs of high-risk groups, such as youth in foster care, homeless youth, those living in rural or low-income areas, African American and Latino youth, and teens who already are parents, as almost 1 in 5 teen births are repeat births (2, 5, 6).

Policy and program options to prevent teen births and support teen parents and their children include:
  • Ensuring that the California Healthy Youth Act—which requires comprehensive, accurate, appropriate sexual education in middle school and high school—is implemented effectively throughout the state (7)
  • Maintaining and expanding public investments in family planning services and in teen pregnancy prevention programs with demonstrated success, as well as in strategies focused on youth development and on strengthening relationships with parents, other adults, and peers (1, 2, 8, 9)
  • Informing health care providers, youth, and parents about state confidentiality laws concerning reproductive health services and the option to keep sensitive service information confidential (10)
  • Ensuring that all youth, particularly those in rural or underserved areas, have access to routine health care that is comprehensive, culturally-sensitive, and teen-friendly; because a healthy pregnancy begins before conception, and at least 80% of teen pregnancies are unplanned, this care should include sexual education and family planning services, and provide information on effective contraception such as long-acting reversible contraception (3, 5, 6)
  • For pregnant teens, ensuring access to quality prenatal care in the first trimester, followed by quality infant care and comprehensive, youth-friendly support services for young parents; also, funding and evaluating interventions targeted at preventing subsequent pregnancies (2, 11)
  • Promoting cross-sector efforts that address larger social and systems forces affecting teen sexual activity and pregnancy, such as media influences (including social media), neighborhood safety and resources, economic opportunities, and barriers to quality health care and family planning services, particularly for high-risk youth (4, 6, 8, 12)
For more information, see kidsdata.org’s Research & Links section, or visit Power to Decide or the Guttmacher Institute. Also see Policy Implications on kidsdata.org under Teen Sexual Health and Low Birthweight and Preterm Births.

Sources for this narrative:

1.  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019). About teen pregnancy. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/teenpregnancy/about

2.  Child Trends. (2017). Teen pregnancy prevention: Research-based policy recommendations for executive and legislative officials in 2017. Retrieved from: https://www.childtrends.org/publications/teen-pregnancy-prevention-research-based-policy-recommendations-executive-legislative-officials-2017

3.  U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Healthy People 2020: Family planning. Retrieved from: https://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/topics-objectives/topic/family-planning?topicid=13

4.  California Department of Public Health, Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health Program. (2016). California Adolescent Sexual Health Needs Index (CASHNI), 2014. Retrieved from: https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CFH/DMCAH/CDPH%20Document%20Library/Data/Adolescent/CA-Adolescent-Sexual-Health-Needs-Index-2014.pdf

5.  Barfield, W. D., et al. (2017). Why we need evidence-based, community-wide approaches for prevention of teen pregnancy. Journal of Adolescent Health, 60(3), S3-S6. Retrieved from: https://www.jahonline.org/article/S1054-139X(16)30953-3/fulltext

6.  Yarger, J., et al. (2017). Rural-urban differences in awareness and use of family planning services among adolescent women in California. Journal of Adolescent Health, 60(4), 395-401. Retrieved from: https://www.jahonline.org/article/S1054-139X(16)30412-8/fulltext

7.  Adolescent Sexual Health Work Group. (2017). Current and relevant resources to support local implementation of comprehensive sexual health education in California schools. Retrieved from: http://ashwg.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/ASHWGResourceList-9.22.17.pdf

8.  Plourde, K. F., et al. (2016). Improving the paradigm of approaches to adolescent sexual and reproductive health. Reproductive Health, 13(1), 72. Retrieved from: https://reproductive-health-journal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12978-016-0191-3

9.  Power to Decide. (2019). Key information about California. Retrieved from: https://powertodecide.org/what-we-do/information/resource-library/key-information-about-us-states

10.  National Center for Youth Law. (2018). California minor consent and confidentiality laws. Retrieved from: http://teenhealthlaw.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/CaMinorConsentConfChartFull11-20-18.pdf

11.  McCroskey, J., et al. (2017). Trends in timely prenatal care across Los Angeles County and why it matters. Children's Data Network. Retrieved from: https://www.datanetwork.org/cdn-apps/snapshots-of-child-well-being-in-los-angeles-county/index.php?data=prenatal

12.  Collins, R. L., et al. (2017). Sexual media and childhood well-being and health. Pediatrics, 140(2), S162-S166. Retrieved from: https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/140/Supplement_2/S162
Websites with Related Information
Key Reports and Research
County/Regional Reports
More Data Sources For Teen Births