Not all teen births are first births. In 2012, almost one in five (17 percent) births to 15- to 19-year-olds were to females who already had one or more babies. Avoiding repeat teen births is one of the goals of OAH’s Pregnancy Assistance Fund (PAF) grant program to States and Tribes. Grantees may use PAF funds to help pregnant and parenting teens complete high school or earn postsecondary degrees, as well as to gain access to health care, child care, family housing, and other critical supports. The money can also be used to improve services for pregnant women who are victims of domestic violence and to increase public awareness and education efforts surrounding teen pregnancy prevention, among other activities. Through PAF grants, OAH also supports several public and private organizations working with adolescent males who become young fathers. For more information about The Pregnancy Assistance Fund, look here.
Variations in Teen Birth Rates Across Populations
Teen birth rates differ substantially by age, racial and ethnic group, and region of the country. Most adolescents who give birth are 18 or older; in 2012, 72 percent of all teen births occurred to 18- to 19-year-olds. Birth rates are also higher among Hispanic and black adolescents than among their white counterparts. In 2012, Hispanic adolescent females ages 15-19 had the highest birth rate (46.3 births per 1,000 adolescent females), followed by black adolescent females (43.9 births per 1,000 adolescent females) and white adolescent females (20.5 births per 1,000 adolescent females) (see Figure 1). Estimates from 2010 data show that one in seven adolescent females (14.4%) in the United States will give birth by her 20th birthday, with substantial differences by race/ethnicity: 10 percent of white adolescent females, 21 percent of black adolescent females, and 24 percent of Hispanic adolescent females.
Although Hispanics currently have the highest teen birth rates, they have also the most dramatic recent decline in rates. Since 2007, the teen birth rate has declined by 39% for Hispanics, compared with declines of 29% for blacks and 25% for whites.
Figure 1: Birth rates per 1,000 females ages 15-19, by race/ethnicity, 1990-2012
Source: Hamilton, B. E., Martin, J. A., & Ventura, S. J.(2013). Births: Preliminary data for 2012. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics.
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Substantial geographic variation also exists in adolescent childbearing across the United States. In 2012, the lowest teen birth rates were reported in the Northeast, while rates were highest in states across the southern part of the country (see Figure 2). See how your state compares on birth rates, pregnancy rates, sexual activity, and contraceptive use with OAH’s reproductive health state fact sheets.
Figure 2: Teenage birth rates for 15 – 19 year olds by state, 2011 Source: Martin, J. A., Hamilton, B. E., Ventura, S. J., & Osterman, M. J. K. (2013). Births: Final data for 2011. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health