Trends in the Well-Being of America's Children and Youth, 1997. SD 4.5 Teen pregnancy

04/01/1997

The overwhelming majority of U.S. teens do not want to become parents as teens.48 Among all pregnancies to teens under age 20 at pregnancy outcome, 86 percent were unintended at conception.49

From 1973 to 1990 the percentage of females aged 15-19 who became pregnant generally increased, rising from 9.6 percent in 1973 to 11.5 percent in 1990. This percentage had declined to 11.1 percent by 1992, the latest year for which estimates are available (see Table SD 4.5.A). In addition, among females ages 15 to 19, state data indicate that from 1991 through 1992, pregnancy rates decreased significantly in 30 of the 41 reporting states and the District of Columbia.50

Differences by Age. Pregnancy is more prevalent among older teens. In 1992, 7.2 percent of teens ages 15-17 became pregnant, compared to 16.8 percent among teens aged 18-19.

Differences by Race.51 White teens ages 15-19 are less likely to become pregnant than are black teens and Hispanic teens. Among teens ages 15-17, Hispanics are more than two times more likely, and blacks are three times more likely, to become pregnant than are whites. Black and Hispanic teens ages 18-19 are at least twice as likely to become pregnant as their white peers (see Table SD 4.5.B).

Sexually Experienced Teens. When the percentage of teens becoming pregnant is examined within the context only of those sexually experienced females aged 15-19, rather than all female teens aged 15-19, the percentage becoming pregnant has declined slightly, but steadily, from 25.4 percent in 1973 to 20.9 percent in 1991 (see Figure SD 4.5).
 

Figure SD 4.5  
Percentage of Females Ages 15-19 Experiencing Pregnancy Each Year, All Teens and Sexually Experienced Teens: 1973-1992 

SD4_5.GIF

Note: Pregnancies are calculated by summing the number of live births, the number of abortions, and the estimated number of spontaneous fetal losses. Spontaneous fetal losses are based on data from the National Survey of Family Growth conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics.

Source: All data for 1973, and sexually experienced female data for 1976, are from Henshaw, S.K. (1994) U.S. Teenage Pregnancy Statistics, New NY: Alan Guttmacher Institute: and Alan Guttmacher Institute, 1994. All other data from Ventura, S.J., Taffel S.M., Mosher, W.D., Wilson, J.B., and Henshaw, S.K. (1995). Trends in Pregnancies and Pregnancy Rates: Estimates for the United States. 1980-92, Monthly Vital Statistics Report, Volume 43, No. 11(S), May 25, 1995.
 
 

Table SD 4.5.A  
Teen Pregnancy: Percentage of Females Ages 15-19 Experiencing Pregnancy Each Year, All Teens and Sexually Experienced Teens: 1973-1992

                   
     
1973
1975
1980
1985
1990
1991
1992
                   
All Females Aged 14 or Less*    
1.4
1.5
1.6
1.6
1.7
1.7
1.7
All Females Aged 15-17    
6.7
6.9
7.3
7.1
7.6
7.5
7.2
All Females Aged 18-19    
14.1
14.9
16.2
15.8
16.6
17.1
16.8
All Females Aged 15-19    
9.6
10.1
11
10.7
11.5
11.5
11.1
All Sexually Experienced 
Females Aged 15-19
   
25.4
24.3
23.5
21.4
20.9
20.9
n/a
                   
Note: *Denominator is females aged 14.  
Pregnancies are calculated by summing the number of live births, the number of abortions, and the estimated number of spontaneous fetal losses. Spontaneous fetal losses are based on data from the National Survey of Family Growth conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics.  

Source: All data for 1973, and sexually experienced female data for 1976, are from Henshaw, S.K. (1994) U.S. Teenage Pregnancy Statistics, New NY: Alan Guttmacher Institute; and Alan Guttmacher Institute, 1994. All other data from Ventura, S.J., Taffel S.M., Mosher, W.D., Wilson, J.B., and Henshaw, S.K. (1995). "Trends in Pregnancies and Pregnancy Rates: Estimates for the United States, 1980-92," Monthly Vital Statistics Report, Volume 43, No. 11(S), May 25, 1995 and unpublished data from Ventura, Mosher, and Henshaw, National Center for Health Statistics.

 
 

Table SD 4.5.B 
Teen Pregnancy: Percentage of Females Ages 15-19 Experiencing Pregnancy Each Year by Age and Race/Ethnicity: 1990 and 1991

         
     
1990
1991
     
 
 
All Females Aged 15-17
7.6
7.5
  White, Non-Hispanic  
5.4
5.1
  Black, Non-Hispanic  
15.8
15.8
  Hispanic  
11.7
12.4
         
All Females Aged 18-19
16.6
17.1
  White, Non-Hispanic  
13
13.1
  Black, Non-Hispanic  
29.3
29.8
  Hispanic  
24.4
26.1
         
All Females Aged 15-19
11.5
11.5
  White, Non-Hispanic  
8.8
8.5
  Black, Non-Hispanic  
21.7
21.7
  Hispanic  
17
18
         
Source: Ventura, S.J., Taffel, S.M., Mosher, W.D., Wilson, J.B., and Henshaw, S. "Trends in Pregnancies and Pregnancy Rates: Estimates for the United States, 1980-92" Monthly Vital Statistics Report. Vol. 43, No. 11 (S), May 25, 1995.

 

48 Alan Guttmacher Institute, 1994. "Sex and Americas Teenagers." New York, NY: Alan Guttmacher Institute.

49 Unintended pregnancies tabulated by Alan Guttmacher Institute based on National Survey of Family Growth in "Facts at a Glance," Washington, D.C.: Child Trends, Inc., 1995.

50 State-specific Pregnancy and Birth Rates Among TeenagersUnited States, 1991, 1992," Morbidity and Mortality
Weekly Report, Sept. 22, 1995.

51 Estimates for whites and blacks exclude Hispanics of those races.
 
 

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