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Breaking the Cycle of Teen Pregnancy

Pregnancy during the teen years can change the lives and futures of the mother, father, child, and their families. Repeat teen births—two or more pregnancies ending in a live birth before age 20—can limit the mother's ability to finish her education or get a job.

Giving birth and raising a child during the teen years can carry high health, emotional, social, and financial costs for teen mothers and their children. Teen mothers want to do their best for their health and their child's, but some can become overwhelmed by life as a parent. Teen births may also cause other problems. Babies born from a repeat teen birth are often born too soon or too small. This can lead to more health problems for the baby.

Learn the Facts

  • Photo: School supplies, make-up and pregnancy testAlthough teen birth rates have been falling for the last two decades, more than 365,000 teens aged 15–19 years gave birth in 2010. Of these births, 66,800 were repeat teen births—
    • 57,200 were second births.
    • 8,400 were third births.
    • 1,200 were fourth or higher births.
  • American Indian and Alaska Natives, Hispanics, and black teens are about 1.5 times more likely to have a repeat teen birth, compared to white teens.

Source: CDC's National Vital Statistics System

Teen Birth Control Use Postpartum

  • 91% of sexually active teen mothers used some form of birth control, but only about 22% used the most effective types of birth control.
  • White (25%) and Hispanic (28%) teen mothers were almost twice as likely as black teen mothers (14%) to use the most effective types of birth control.
  • Long-acting reversible birth control can be a good option for a teen mother. Implants and IUDs are two types. These do not require her to do something on a regular basis—such as take a pill each day.

Source: CDC's Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System

Learn What You Can Do to Reduce Repeat Teen Births

Doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals can—

  • Counsel parenting teens on how they can avoid additional pregnancies by not having sex.
  • Discuss with sexually active teens the most effective types of birth control to prevent repeat pregnancies. Refer to CDC guidelines: United States Medical Eligibility Criteria for Contraceptive Use (USMEC).
  • Remind sexually active teens to also use a condom every time to prevent sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS.
  • Connect teen mothers with support services that can help prevent repeat pregnancies, such as home visiting programs.
  • Advise teen mothers that births should be spaced at least 2 years apart to support the health of the baby, and that having more than one child during the teen years can make it difficult for teen parents to reach their educational and work goals.

Parents, guardians, and caregivers can—

  • Photo: Mother congratulating daughter at graduationTalk about how to avoid repeat births with both male and female teens.
  • Check with your insurer about coverage of preventive services. In some cases, preventive services, such as birth control methods and counseling, are available with no out-of-pocket costs.
  • Talk with community leaders, including faith-based organizations, about using effective programs that can help prevent repeat teen pregnancies.

Teens, including teen parents, can—

  • Choose not to have sex.
  • Use birth control correctly every time if you are having sex. Use condoms every time to prevent disease.
  • Discuss sexual health issues with your parents, partner, health care professionals, and other adults and friends you trust.
  • Find a family planning clinic near you for birth control if you choose to be sexually active.

What CDC and the Federal Government Are Doing

The federal government is—

  • Funding states and tribes through the Pregnancy Assistance Fund to provide pregnant and parenting teens with a complete network of support services.
  • Photo: Teacher talking with students in classroomPromoting home visiting and other programs shown to prevent repeat teen pregnancy and reduce sexual risk behavior.
  • Conducting and evaluating programs that work, as well as innovative approaches to reduce teen pregnancy and births in communities with the highest rates.
  • Helping other groups with information to duplicate teen pregnancy prevention programs that have been shown to be effective through rigorous research.

More Information