stats banner

Adolescent Pregnancy Rates

Local Data:

The 2004 Teen Pregnancy Statistics show that North Carolina rates rose by 2.4%, an increase of 753 pregnancies from 2003. These increases were evident in local county data as well. In 2004, Brunswick County had higher rates of teen pregnancy than New Hanover or Pender Counties (77.4 per 1,000). For a full report click on the PDF at the bottom of the page.

Adolescent Pregnancy Coalition of NC has the most recent results from 2004.

Why is teen pregnancy a problem?

(Adapted from an article appearing on the National Campaign to Reduce Teen Pregnancy website)

Reducing the rate of teen pregnancy is one of the most strategic and direct means available to improve overall child well-being and to reduce persistent child poverty. Teen pregnancy has serious consequences for the teen mother, the child, and to society in general.

Despite the recently declining teen pregnancy rates, 34% of teenage girls get pregnant at least once before they reach age 20, resulting in more than 820,000 teen pregnancies a year. At this level, the United States has the highest rate of teen pregnancy in the fully industrialized world.

Teen pregnancy is bad for the mother...

Teen mothers are less likely to complete school and more likely to be single parents. Less than one-third of teens who begin their families before age 18 ever earn a high school diploma. Only 1.5% earn a college degree by the age of 30.

There are serious health risks for adolescents who have babies. Common medical problems among adolescent mothers include poor weight gain, pregnancy-induced hypertension, anemia, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and cephalopelvic disproportion. Later in life, adolescent mothers tend to be at greater risk for obesity and hypertension than women who were not teenagers when they had their first child.

Teen pregnancy is closely linked to poverty and single parenthood.The growth in single-parent families remains the single most important reason for increased poverty among children over the last twenty years, as documented in the 1998 Economic Report of the President. Therefore, reducing teen pregnancy and child-bearing is an obvious place to anchor serious efforts to reduce poverty in future generations.

Teen pregnancy is bad for the child...

Children born to teen mothers suffer from higher rates of low birth weight and related health problems. Low birth weight raises the probabilities of infant death, blindness, deafness, chronic respiratory problems, mental retardation, mental illness, and cerebral palsy.

Children of teens often have insufficient health care. Despite having more health problems than the children of older mothers, the children of teen mothers receive less medical care and treatment.

Children of teen mothers often receive inadequate parenting. Children born to teen mothers are at higher risk of poor parenting because their mothers - and often their fathers as well - are typically too young to master the demanding job of being a parent.

Children with adolescent parents often fall victim to abuse and neglect. A recent analysis found that there are 110 reported incidents of abuse and neglect per 1,000 families headed by a young teen mother.

Children of teenagers often suffer from poor school performance. Children of teens are 50 percent more likely to repeat a grade; they perform much worse on standardized tests; and ultimately they are less likely to complete high school than if their mothers had delayed childbearing.

And bad for us all...

The U.S. still leads the fully industrialized world in teen pregnancy and birth rates - by a wide margin. In fact, the U.S. rates are nearly double Great Britain's, at least four times those of France and Germany, and more than ten times that of Japan.

Teen pregnancy costs society billions of dollars a year. There are nearly half a million children born to teen mothers each year. Most of these mothers are unmarried, and many will end up poor and on welfare. Each year the federal government alone spends about $7 billion to help families that began with a teenage birth."

What can be done?

There are a variety of evidence-based programs around the country that are effective at reducing the rates of teen pregnancy. Locally there are several programs designed to reduce and prevent adolescent pregnancy.

Additional References:

National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. (2004). Factsheet: How is the 34% statistic calculated? Washington, DC: Author.

Henshaw, S.K. (2004). U.S. Teenage Pregnancy Statistics with Comparative Statistics for Women Aged 20-24. New York: The Alan Guttmacher Institute.

Singh, S., & Darroch, J.E. (2000). Adolescent pregnancy and childbearing: Levels and trends in developed countries. Family Planning Perspectives, 32(1), 14-23.

Maynard, R.A. (Ed.). (1996). Kids Having Kids: A Robin Hood Foundation Special Report on the Costs of Adolescent Childbearing. New York: The Robin Hood Foundation.

Brown, S., & Eisenberg, L. (Eds.) (1995). The Best Intentions: Unintended Pregnancy and the Well-Being of Children and Families. Committee on Unintended Pregnancy. Washington, DC: Author.

National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. (1997). Whatever Happened to Childhood? The Problem of Teen Pregnancy in the United States. Washington, DC: Author.

Sawhill, I.V. (1998). Teen pregnancy prevention: Welfare reform's missing component. Brookings Policy Brief, 38, 1-8.

Martin, J.A., Hamilton, B.E., Ventura, S.J., Menacker, F., Park, M.M., & Sutton, P.D. (2002). Births: Final data for 2001. National Vital Statistics Reports, 51 (2).

Carnegie Task Force on Meeting the Needs of Children. (1994). Starting Points: Meeting the Needs of Our Youngest Children. New York: Author.

Maynard, R.A.. (1997). The costs of adolescent childbearing. In Maynard, R. (Ed.), Kids Having Kids: Economic Costs and Social Consequences of Teen Pregnancy (pp. 285-337). Washington, DC: The Urban Institute Press.

PDF Download : Adolescent Pregnancy Rates for NC Counties 2004

PDF Download : Ranked Adolescent Pregnancy Rates by County