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New CDC Vital Signs: Younger teens still account for 1 in 4 teen births

Although births to younger teens aged 15 to 17 years have declined, they still represent over a quarter of teen births - nearly 1,700 births a week, according to this month’s Vital Signs by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This reinforces the need for targeted interventions to prevent teen pregnancy. CDC researchers analyzed birth data from the National Vital Statistics System and adolescent health behavior data from the National Survey of Family Growth.

  • Declining teen births: The rate of births per 1,000 teens aged 15 to 17 years declined 63 percent, from 38.6 in 1991 to 14.1 in 2012.
  • Racial disparities: The birth rate to younger teens is higher for Hispanic, non-Hispanic black and American Indian/Alaska Native teens.  In 2012, the birth rate per 1,000 teens aged 15 to 17 years was 25.5 for Hispanic teens, 21.9 for non-Hispanic black teens, 17 for American Indian/Alaska Native teens, 8.4 for non-Hispanic white teens and 4.1 for Asian/Pacific Islander teens.
  • Abstinence: Most teens aged 15-17 (73 percent) had not had sex yet.
  • Need for sex education: Nearly 1 in 4 teens in this age group never spoke with their parents or guardians about sex.

May is Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month. This Vital Signs report was created to help the nation’s communities continue the dialogue about teen pregnancy and its burden on our nation’s youth.  Learn more about teen pregnancy.

Graphics / Images

  • Photo: Couple holding hands.

    Breaking the cycle of Teen Pregnancy: 1 in 5 teen births are repeat births.

  • Infographic:  More than 1 in 4 teen girls who gave birth were ages 15 to 17, before teens typically complete high school.

    More than 1 in 4 teen girls who gave birth were ages 15 to 17, before teens typically complete high school.

  • Infographic:  Nearly 1,700 teen girls ages 15 to 17 years give birth every week..

    Nearly 1,700 teen girls ages 15 to 17 years give birth every week.

  • Infographic: Only 1 in 4 teen girls ages 15 to 17 have ever had sex.

    Only 1 in 4 teen girls ages 15 to 17 have ever had sex.

  • infografía: Más de 1 de cada 4 muchachas adolescents que dieron a luz tenía entre 15 y 17 años; por lo general, antes de terminar la escuela secundaria superior.

    Más de 1 de cada 4 muchachas adolescents que dieron a luz tenía entre 15 y 17 años; por lo general, antes de terminar la escuela secundaria superior.

  • infografía: Casi 1700 muchachas adolescents de 15 a 17 años dan a luz cada semana.

    Casi 1700 muchachas adolescents de 15 a 17 años dan a luz cada semana.

  • infografía: 1 de cada 4 muchachas adolescents de 15 a 17 años ha tenido relaciones sexuales.

    1 de cada 4 muchachas adolescents de 15 a 17 años ha tenido relaciones sexuales.

Contact Information

CDC Media Relations
(404) 639-3286
media@cdc.gov

Spokespersons

Tom Frieden, MD, MPH

Biography

Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH

Although we have made significant progress reducing teen pregnancy, far too many teens are still having babies. Births to younger teens pose the greatest risk of poor medical, social and economic outcomes. Efforts to prevent teen childbearing need to focus on evidence-based approaches to delaying sexual activity and increasing use of the most effective methods of contraception for those teens who are sexually active.

Tom Frieden, MD, MPH - Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Shanna Cox, MSPH

Biography

Photo: Shanna Cox, MSPH

We need to provide young people with the support and opportunities they need to empower themselves. Trying to balance the task of childbearing while trying to complete their high school education is a difficult set of circumstances, even with the help of family and others. Teens who give birth are at increased risk of having a repeat birth while still a teenager. And these younger teens are less likely to earn a high school diploma or GED than older teens who give birth.

Shanna Cox, MSPH - Health Scientist, Division of Reproductive Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion

 
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