Saturday, April 30, 2011

Teen Pregnancy Statistics

Statistics! Boring, I know. But these are statistics about sex! Now, your paying attention.


Seriously, folks. These are some pretty interesting, somewhat uplifting, but then somewhat sobering statistics regarding teen pregnancy in the U.S. According to the Guttmacher Institute, the most recent data (2006) on teen pregnancy rates in the U.S. is 71.5 per 1,000 girls ages 15 – 19, or 7%.

Some history here for perspective:
Pregnancy, and abortion, rates rose steadily from the 1970's – 90’s. But, starting in 1990 both the pregnancy and abortion rates started to decline. Research indicates that the main reason for this decline is an increase in contraception.

Rising again?
However in 2005, pregnancy rates started to rise and continued slightly through 2007. Data is mixed on the most recent trends, but preliminary information indicates a slight continued rise, with unintended pregnancy rates are highest among African American and Hispanic girls. Research indicates that the following may be reasons for the recent increases:

• Shifts in the racial and ethnic composition of the population
• Growth of abstinence only education programs at the expense of comprehensive programs
• Changes in public perception and attitudes about teenage pregnancy

So what's the problem?
According to the
March of Dimes:
• Only 40% of teenagers who have children before age 18 go on to graduate from high school, compared to 75% of teens who don't.
• About 64% of children born to an unmarried teenage high-school dropout live in poverty, compared to 7% of children born to women over age 20 who are married and high school graduates.
• A child born to a teenage mother is 50% more likely to repeat a grade in school and is more likely to perform poorly on standardized tests and drop out before finishing high school.

The teen pregnancy rate in the U.S. is twice that of any other industrialized nation.

Sweden's teenage birthrate is 7 per 1,000 births, compared with 49 in the U.S. (2006 data). According a US News and World report article, the difference may be attributed to schooling:

Since 1956, sex education has been compulsory in Swedish schools, from the earliest grades through high school. Sex is a natural human act, the educators reason, and most people become active before they're 20. Since there is no changing that, the Swedes figure, young people should at least understand sexuality and reproduction, as well as the risks of unprotected sex. (Grose, 2007)

Grose, T. (2007, March 18). Straight Facts About the Birds and Bees. US News and World Report, website.

The Guttmacher Institute website:

The March of Dimes website: