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How Have Teenage Birth Rates in the US Changed over Time?

The teenage birth rate in the United States has generally declined since the late 1950s, when about 9.6 percent of teenage girls age 15 to 19 gave birth each year. It hit a low around the mid-2000s, when only about 40 in 1,000 teenage girls 15 to 19 gave birth a year, then increased slightly before dropping almost 10 percent from 2009 to 2010, to about 34 births per 1,000 teenage girls per year. Despite this, teenage birth rates in the US are significantly higher than those of other Western countries. As of 2010, the teenage birth rates in the US were 1.5 times more than that of the European country that had the highest teenage birth rate, the United Kingdom, and about nine times higher than the countries that had the lowest teenage birth rates, such as the Netherlands and other Scandinavian countries.

More facts about teenage birth rates:

  • Studies have shown that teenagers throughout the Western world have similar levels of sexual activity, but those in the United States tend to get pregnant much more often because they are less likely to use contraception than teenagers in other nations.

  • As of 2010, the place in the US that had the highest pregnancy rates among girls 15 to 19 was the District of Columbia, which had an annual teenage pregnancy rate of 16.5 percent. States that had high teenage pregnancy rates included New Mexico, Nevada and Arizona, which had teenage birth rates of 9.3, 9, and 8.9 percent, respectively, in 2010.

  • Pregnancies in women of all ages in the US have dropped since about 2007, with the exception of women age 40 to 44. The age group that had the highest rate of pregnancy as of 2012 was those who were 25 to 29.

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