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Federal Data Sources

Teen pregnancy rates as of 2010 and the percentage of never-married teens who were sexually experienced as of 2006-2010 were at historic lows in the United States.1 The number of teens giving birth in 2010 was the lowest rate since 1946 and the percentage of never-married teens who were sexually experienced has significantly decreased since 1988.2 While rates of teen pregnancy are declining in the U.S., the national teen pregnancy rate continues to be higher than in other Western industrialized nations and racial and ethnic disparities persist.3 There is also significant variation in birth rates across states. For many years states in the South and Southwest have had the highest teen pregnancy rates and states in the Northeast and Upper Midwest have had the lowest.4 Locate reproductive health data for your state here.

Teen pregnancy data is collected and analyzed to determine changes in trends and to identify problems.5 While the data for teen pregnancy and birth rates is not available in real time, collecting and reporting of this information can help service providers recognize and assess target populations and their risky behaviors. This data also helps to reveal teen perspectives on health behaviors such as condom and contraception use.

To learn more about teen pregnancy statistics, the following national surveys and surveillance systems are good resources for information:

National Vital Statistics System. The National Vital Statistics System disseminates the official U.S. vital statistics including births, deaths, marriages, divorces, and fetal deaths through partnerships between the National Center on Health Statistics and vital registration systems operated in the various jurisdictions.

Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System. The Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) monitors priority health-risk behaviors among youth and young adults. The YRBSS includes a national school-based survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and surveys conducted by state, territorial, and local education and health agencies, and tribal governments. These surveys include questions about sexual behaviors that contribute to unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV infection. YRBSS data are used to

  • measure progress toward achieving national health objectives for Healthy People 2020 and other program and policy indicators;
  • assess trends in priority health-risk behaviors among high school students; and
  • evaluate the impact of broad school and community interventions at the national, state, and local levels.

In addition, state, territorial, and local agencies and nongovernmental organizations use YRBSS data to set and track progress toward meeting school health and health promotion program goals, support modification of school health curricula or other programs, support new legislation and policies that promote health, and seek funding and other support for new initiatives.

Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System. PRAMS, the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System, is a surveillance project of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state health departments. PRAMS collects state-specific, population-based data on maternal attitudes and experiences before, during, and shortly after pregnancy. PRAMS provides data for state health officials to improve the health of mothers and infants, helps to monitor changes in maternal and child health indicators (e.g., unintended pregnancy, prenatal care, breastfeeding, smoking, drinking, infant health), and provides information for planning and review of state maternal and infant health programs.  

National Survey on Family Growth. The National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG) gathers information on family life, marriage and divorce, pregnancy, infertility, use of contraception, and men's and women's health. The NSFG is used for behavioral science and public health research and policy.

Resources

CDC, Publications and Information Products: National Center on Health Statistics Data Briefs
The National Center on Health Statistics regularly publishes data briefs, statistical publications about current public health topics. Each report takes a complex data subject and summarizes it in text and graphics that provide readers with easily comprehensible information in a compact publication. A number of briefs have focused on teen pregnancy rates including “Birth Rates for U.S. Teenagers Reach Historic Lows for All Age and Ethnic Groups” (PDF, 8 pages), which was published in April 2012. Older briefs are archived on the site.

Trends in the Prevalence of Sexual Behaviors, National YRBSS: 1991-2009 (PDF, 1 page)
The national Youth Risk Behavior Survey monitors priority health risk behaviors that contribute to health and social problems among youth and young adults. This report shows trends in sexual behavior among youth and young adults from 1991 to 2009.

Vital Signs: Preventing Teen Pregnancy in the U.S. (PDF, 4 pages)
This resource from the CDC gives an overview of teen pregnancy in the U.S. It also explains why prevention is important and what can be done about this issue.

Prepregnancy Contraceptive Use Among Teens with Unintended Pregnancies Resulting in Live Births — Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS), 2004–2008
Data from this Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report from January 2012 offers insight into current statistics about teens not using contraception, teens who give birth,  the risks of early childbearing, and why this is a public health issue.

1Hamilton & Ventura, 2012; Martinez, Copen, & Abma, 2011
2Hamilton & Ventura, 2012; Martinez, Copen, & Abma, 2011
3Kost & Henshaw, 2012
4Mathews, Sutton, Hamilton, & Ventura, 2010
5CDC, 2012

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