AMERICAN WOMEN AND ADOLESCENT PREGNANCY
Adolescent pregnancy is a chronic concern in
the African American community. Early childbearing compromises
a young female’s opportunity to attain a high level of
education and employment. Teen mothers are more likely to live
in poverty and the overall quality of a young mother’s life
Although teen pregnancy rates have declined,
young Black females are still two to three times more likely
than White females to conceive during their adolescent years.
It is still evident that while some progress has been made, a
continued focus on the reproductive and overall health needs
of young women is necessary. The Project supports efforts that
are targeted towards the reduction of teen pregnancy as well
as the promotion of health behaviors.
Facts About Adolescent Pregnancy
Twenty-three percent of 14 year olds and
30% of all 15 year olds have had sexual intercourse.
Approximately one million teenagers become
pregnant each year in the United States, accounting for
13% of all U.S. births.
Adolescent pregnancies account for
approximately 80% of unplanned pregnancies. Nearly 45% of
teen pregnancies end in abortion.
Approximately 9% of African American
teenagers gave birth in 1996 – the lowest number since
the government began keeping this statistic.
The percentage of sexually active teens
using condoms has increased. Teenagers who have sex are
more likely to use contraceptives than in the past.
Babies born to young mothers are more
likely to be low birth weight, to have childhood health
problems and to be hospitalized than are those born to
older mothers. Over 1/3 of pregnant teens receive
inadequate prenatal care.
Morbidity and mortality rates are higher
for babies born to young mothers.
Approximately half of mothers receiving
Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) were less
than 17years old when they had their first child.
Nearly 25% of adolescent mothers have a
second child within 24 months of their first child. Black
women are 1.6 times more likely than White women to have a
time span of less than 18 months between deliveries. This
is important as current research suggests a connection
between deliveries that are close in time and poor
pregnancy outcomes such as low birth weight and preterm
Teenagers with disabilities
(developmental, learning, physical) are at an increased
risk for early pregnancy.
Factors Impacting Teen Pregnancy
Two-thirds of teen mothers have a history
of sexual abuse. One-quarter of young women report that
their first sexual experience was unwanted. In addition,
the younger the women are when they have their first
experience, the more likely they are to have had unwanted
or non-voluntary sex. Seven in ten females who have had
sex before age 13 are in this category.
Three-quarters of all unintended teen
pregnancies occur to adolescents using no birth control.
Research indicates that those individuals
who have received sex education are more likely to have
their first sexual experience at a later age and use birth
School failure often precedes early
pregnancy and childbearing.
for Youth, Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative (Statistics),
Guttmacher Institute, 1994. Sex and America’s Teenagers. New
York: The Alan Guttmacher Institute.
Stanley, “Unintended Pregnancy in the United States.”
Family Planning Perspectives 30 (1998) 24-46.
Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, National Center for Health
Statistics, April 1998.
Adolescent Pregnancy Rates, United States, 1992-1995,
Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 1998.
U.S. Department of Health and
Human Services, 1997. A National Strategy to Prevent Teen
Pregnancy. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office
and Children’s Health Policy Center, Perinatal and Women’s
Health Issue Summary: Pregnancy Planning and Unintended