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Adolescent Childbearing

Narrative

In 2010, the birth rate among adolescent females aged 15-19 years decreased to 34.2 per 1,000 females—the lowest rate ever recorded. This continues the general decline in teen birth rates since the most recent peak in 1991, when the rate was 61.8 per 1,000 females, and represents a decline of 44 percent over that period. In 2010, the birth rate among adolescents aged 15-17 years was lower than for 18- to 19-year-olds (17.3 versus 58.2 births per 1,000) and adolescents aged 15-17 years experienced larger declines in childbearing from the 1991 peak compared with 18- to 19-year-olds (55 versus 38 percent).

Although adolescent birth rates reached historic lows for all race and ethnic groups in 2010, disparities remained. Among adolescents aged 15-19 years, Hispanic and non-Hispanic Black females had the highest birth rates in 2010 (55.7 and 51.5 births per 1,000)—rates more than five times higher than those of Asian/Pacific Islander females (10.9 births per 1,000) and twice as high as non-Hispanic White females (23.5 births per 1,000). American Indian/Alaska Native adolescents aged 15-19 years also had higher birth rates (38.7 births per 1,000) than Asian/Pacific Islander and non-Hispanic White females. These disparities persist for both younger and older adolescents, aged 15-17 years and 18-19 years, respectively.

Declines in adolescent childbearing over the past two decades have been attributed to delays in the age at first intercourse and increased use of highly effective contraceptive methods, including IUDs or hormonal methods.1 Racial and ethnic disparities in the age of sexual debut have been eliminated due to delays in sexual initiation for non-Hispanic Black and Hispanic females compared with non-Hispanic White females. However, racial and ethnic disparities in contraceptive use persist. In 2006-2010, 65.7 percent of sexually active non-Hispanic White adolescent females used highly effective contraceptive methods, compared to 46.5 percent non-Hispanic Black and 53.7 percent of Hispanic adolescent females (data not shown in graph images or in data tables on this site).1

1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Sexual experience and contraceptive use among female teens - United States, 1995, 2002, and 2006-2010. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 2012 May 4;61(17):297-301

Graphs

This image is described in the Data section.

birth rates among females 10-19 graph

This image is described in the Data section.

birth rates among females 15-19 graph

Data

Birth Rates Among Adolescent Females Aged 15-19 Years, 1990-2010
Year Live births per 1,000 females
15-19 years 15-17 years 18-19 years
Sources: Martin, JA, Hamilton BE, Ventura SJ, Osterman, MK, Wilson, EC, Mathews, TJ. Births: Final data for 2010. National vital statistics reports; vol 61 no 1. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2012. Martin JA, Hamilton BE, Ventura SJ, et al. Births: Final data for 2009. National vital statistics reports; vol 60 no 1. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2011.
1990 37.5 59.9 88.6
1991 38.6 61.8 94
1992 37.6 60.3 93.6
1993 37.5 59 91.1
1994 37.2 58.2 90.2
1995 35.5 56 87.7
1996 33.3 53.5 84.7
1997 31.4 51.3 82.1
1998 29.9 50.3 80.9
1999 28.2 48.8 79.1
2000 26.9 47.7 78.1
2001 24.5 45 75.5
2002 23.1 42.6 72.2
2003 22.2 41.1 69.6
2004 21.8 40.5 68.7
2005 21.1 39.7 68.4
2006 21.6 41.1 71.2
2007 21.7 41.5 71.7
2008 21.1 40.2 68.2
2009 19.6 37.9 64.0
2010 17.3 34.2 58.2
Birth Rates Among Adolescent Females Aged 15-19 Years, by Race/Ethnicity* and Age, 2010
Race/Ethnicity Live Births per 1,000 Females
15-19 Years 15-17 Years 18-19 Years
*May include Hispanics
† Separate estimates for Asians and Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders were not available.
Source: Martin, JA, Hamilton BE, Ventura SJ, Osterman, MK, Wilson, EC, Mathews, TJ. Births: Final data for 2010. National vital statistics reports; vol 61 no 1. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2012.
Non-Hispanic White 23.5 10.0 42.6
Non-Hispanic Black 51.5 27.4 85.6
Hispanic 55.7 32.3 90.7
American Indian/Alaska Native* 38.7 20.1 66.1
Asian/Pacific Islander*† 10.9 5.1 18.7