Background on Teenage Pregnancy

While it may seem hard to believe, the U.S. has the highest teen pregnancy rate in the industrialized world – that’s twice as high as in England or Canada. Almost half (46%) of high school teens admit they've had sex and in 2009, 34% of currently sexually active high school students said they did not use a condom the last time they had intercourse. As a result, as many as 750,000 American teenage girls get pregnant every year... and the consequences are lifelong.

Teen Mothers

  • Teen mothers are less likely to complete high school (only one in three receives a high school diploma) and only 1.5% has a college degree by age 30.
  • Nearly 80% of unmarried teen mothers end up on welfare, a much higher percentage than their older counterparts. Almost 50% of all teen mothers and over 75% of unmarried teen mothers began receiving welfare within five years of the birth of their first child.
  • While we may imagine that a teen pregnancy is a the result of a one-time mistake, nearly 25% of teen mothers have a second birth before turning twenty.
  • Teen mothers are less likely to qualify for a high-paying job since only two-thirds of teen moms have a high school diploma.
  • Teen moms are less likely to attend college.

Children of Teen Mothers

  • Babies of teen mothers are more likely to be born prematurely and at low birth weight, which raises the probabilities of infant death, blindness, deafness, chronic respiratory problems, mental retardation, mental illness, and cerebral palsy; it also doubles the chance that a child will later be diagnosed as having dyslexia, hyperactivity, or another disability.
  • These children are also at greater risk of abuse and neglect.
  • The sons of teen mothers are 13% more likely to end up in prison while teen daughters are 22% more likely to become teen mothers themselves.
  • If an unmarried teen mother did not end up receiving her high school diploma, there is a 64% chance that the child will grow up in poverty. The child of a married high-school-graduate, however, has only a 7% chance of growing up in poverty.

 Sources:

Stay Teen

The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy

Women's Health Channel

Family First Aid

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention