Teenage Pregnancy

Andrew L. Cherry and Mary E. Dillon

in Childhood Studies

ISBN: 9780199791231
Published online April 2013 | | DOI:
Teenage Pregnancy


Since the 1950s, teenage pregnancy has attracted a great deal of concern and attention from religious leaders, the general public, policymakers, and social scientists, particularly in the United States and other developed countries. The continuing apprehension about teenage pregnancy is based on the profound impact that teenage pregnancy can have on the lives of the girls and their children. Demographic studies continue to report that in developed countries such as the United States, teenage pregnancy results in lower educational attainment, increased rates of poverty, and worse “life outcomes” for children of teenage mothers compared to children of young adult women. Teenage pregnancy is defined as occurring between thirteen and nineteen years of age. There are, however, girls as young as ten who are sexually active and occasionally become pregnant and give birth. The vast majority of teenage births in the United States occurs among girls between fifteen and nineteen years of age. When being inclusive of all girls who can become pregnant and give birth, the term used is adolescent pregnancy, which describes the emotional and biological developmental stage called adolescence. The concern over the age at which a young woman should give birth has existed throughout human history. In general, however, there are two divergent views used to explain teenage pregnancy. Some authors and researchers argue that labeling teen pregnancy as a public health problem has little to do with public health and more to do with it being socially, culturally, and economically unacceptable. The bibliographic citations selected for this article will be extensive. The objective is to cover the major issues related to teenage pregnancy and childbearing, and adolescent pregnancy and childbearing. Childbirth to teenage mothers in the United States peaked in the mid-1950s at approximately 100 births per 1,000 teenage girls. In 2010, the rate of live births to teenage mothers in the United States dropped to a low of 34 births per 1,000. This was the lowest rate of teenage births in the United States since 1946. In 2012, the live births to teenage mothers continued to decline to 29.4 per 1,000. This was a drop of 13.5 percent from 2010. In 2012, some 305,388 babies were born to girls between fifteen and nineteen years of age. Among girls fourteen and younger the rate of pregnancy is about 7 per 1,000. About half of these pregnancies (3 per 1,000) resulted in live births. In spite of this decline in teenage pregnancy over the years, approximately 820,000 (34 percent) of teenage girls in the United States become pregnant each year. What’s more, some 85 percent of these pregnancies are unintended. These pregnancies and births suggest that the story of teenage pregnancy is not in the numbers of teen pregnancies and births but in the story of what causes the increase and decrease in the numbers. With the objective in mind to better understand teenage pregnancy, a general overview is provided as a broad background on teenage pregnancy. Citations are grouped under related topics that explicate the complexity of critical forces affecting teenage pregnancy. Topics that provide a global view of the variations in perception of and response to teenage pregnancy will also be covered in this article.

Article.  17395 words. 

Subjects: Development Studies

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