When it comes to talking about teen pregnancy, many parents and their children are unsure how to break the ice on the this topic. Just as it can be uncomfortable to discuss sexual and reproductive health, topics such as pregnancy, miscarriage, abortion, and birth can be awkward to bring up, especially for parents who aren’t familiar with all of the facts about teenage pregnancy. However, the more informed parents are on these topics, the easier it is to begin the conversation on pregnancy.
Whether you’re a parent preparing for a serious talk with your child or a young adult who needs the facts about teenage pregnancy, here are some of the statistics you should be familiar with:
Historically, teen pregnancy rates as of 2010 are at the lowest they’ve been in two decades: 57.4 out of every 1,000 women, or 6% of all teens experiencing a pregnancy by age 19. These rates include teens between the ages of 15 and 19, but 18- and 19-year-olds make up the majority (69% or 96.2 out of 1,000) of all teen pregnancies, according to statistics from the Guttmacher Institute. However, out of every 1,000 teenage women, the pregnancy rates for 15- to 17-year-old girls was 30.1.
Roughly 77% of these pregnancies are unplanned, meaning that they’ve happened too soon or are unwanted. This is a far higher number than it is for all women: by the time they reach the age of 45, at least half of women have experienced an unintended pregnancy.
Miscarriage and Abortion
Miscarriage is defined as the loss of a pregnancy within the first 20 weeks; this is typically due to a problem with embryonic or fetal development. Abortion refers to the removal of a fetus or embryo from the womb before it can survive on its own; if this occurs spontaneously, it falls into the category of a miscarriage. However, most abortions are induced, meaning that they are by choice.
According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, abortion has reached historic lows since it was legalized in 1973. The abortion rate for all women aged 15 to 44 is 13.9 abortions per 1,000 women, or a ratio of 219 abortions per 1,000 live births. For teenagers, the estimated abortion rates are around 30% of all teen pregnancies; around 15% of pregnancies result in miscarriage, according to Guttmacher Institute statistics from 2010.
The birth rate for teens in the United States has also significantly declined. Between 2012 and 2013, the teen birth rate decreased by another 10% from 29.4 to 26.6 per 1,000 teens, bringing the number even further to historic lows. Between 1991 and 2013, the birth rate fell from 61.8 to 26.6 per 1,000 teens. While these numbers could still be lower, the decline could be attributed to more access to teen pregnancy programs and education for young women.
Education is key for teens who are sexually active or may begin having sex. While parents can be one resource for their teens, they don’t have to act alone. There are also teen pregnancy centers throughout the United States that can provide their clients with information on pregnancy for teen and adult women and information on ways to prevent teen pregnancy. For teens who are already pregnant, there are many organizations that offer free pregnancy help and other resources.
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The information provided here is general in nature. It is not a substitute for a consultation with a medical professional. Before any medical procedure, it is imperative that you discuss your personal medical history, risks, and concerns with your doctor. If you have questions during or after a procedure, your doctor should be immediately contacted. Avenue Women’s Center is not an emergency center. If you are experiencing severe symptoms, such as bleeding and/or pain, seek immediate medical attention. Contact your physician, go to an emergency room, or call 911.