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America's Children in Brief: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2020

Adolescent Births

Childbirth during adolescence often is associated with long-term difficulties for the mother and her child. Compared with babies born to older mothers, babies born to adolescent mothers, particularly younger adolescent mothers, are at higher risk of low birthweight and infant mortality.13, 14 These babies are more likely to grow up in homes that offer lower levels of emotional support and cognitive stimulation, and they are less likely to earn high school diplomas.14, 15 For the mothers, giving birth during adolescence is associated with limited educational attainment, which in turn can reduce employment prospects and earnings potential.13

Figure 3: Birth rates for females ages 15–19 by race and Hispanic origin and metropolitan status, 2018
Birth rates for females ages 15–19 by race and Hispanic origin and metropolitan status, 2018

NOTE: NH = non-Hispanic origin; AIAN = American Indian or Alaska Native; and NHPI = Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander. Race refers to the mother's race. The 1997 U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) standards on race and ethnicity are used to classify persons into one of the following five racial groups: White, Black or African American, Asian, American Indian or Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander. All categories are single race. Included in the total, but not shown separately, are people reporting two or more races. Data on race and Hispanic origin are collected and reported separately. Persons of Hispanic origin may be of any race. The OMB classifies counties as within a metropolitan or a micropolitan statistical area. The remaining counties are not classified and are considered rural in this report. Rural counties may include small urban areas, as well as completely rural areas. Nonmetropolitan counties include counties in micropolitan statistical and rural areas.

SOURCE: National Center for Health Statistics, National Vital Statistics System.

  • The birth rate among females ages 15–19 was 17 per 1,000 in 2018. The birth rate was highest for adolescents living in rural counties (26 per 1,000), followed by those living in micropolitan counties (24 per 1,000) and metropolitan counties (16 per 1,000).
  • In 2018, the birth rate among females ages 15–19 was 30 per 1,000 for American Indian or Alaska Native, non-Hispanic; 27 per 1,000 for Hispanic; 27 per 1,000 for Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, non-Hispanic; 26 per 1,000 for Black, non-Hispanic; 12 per 1,000 for White, non-Hispanic; and 3 per 1,000 for Asian, non-Hispanic adolescents.
  • For White, non-Hispanic and American Indian or Alaska Native, non-Hispanic adolescents in 2018, the birth rate was highest for those living in rural counties and lowest for those living in metropolitan counties.
  • For Black, non-Hispanic and Asian, non-Hispanic adolescents in 2018, the birth rate was highest for those living in micropolitan and rural counties and lowest for those living in metropolitan counties.
  • For Hispanic and Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, non-Hispanic adolescents in 2018, the birth rate was higher for those living in micropolitan counties compared with those living in metropolitan counties.

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13 Martinez, G., Copen, C. E., & Abma, J. C. (2011). Teenagers in the United States: Sexual activity, contraceptive use, and childbearing, 2006–2010 National Survey of Family Growth. Vital and Health Statistics Series, 23(31), 1–35. Hyattsville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics.

14 Ventura, S. J., Hamilton, B. E., & Mathews, T. J. (2014). National and state patterns of teen births in the United States, 1940–2013. National Vital Statistics Reports, 63(4). Hyattsville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr63/nvsr63_04.pdf

15 Hoffman, S. D., & Maynard, R. A. (Eds.). (2008). Kids having kids: Economic costs and social consequences of teen pregnancy. Washington, DC: Urban Institute Press.