Medicine:Prevalence of teenage pregnancy

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Teenage birth rate per 1,000 women aged 15–19, 2000–2009[1]
Teen pregnancy rates are higher in more unequal countries and in more unequal US states

Industrialized and developing countries have distinctly different rates of teenage pregnancy. In developed regions, such as United States, Canada, Western Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, teen parents tend to be unmarried, and adolescent pregnancy is seen as a social issue.

By contrast, teenage parents in developing regions such as Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America, and the Pacific Islands (in some civilizations) are often married, and their pregnancy may be welcomed by family and society. However, in these societies, early pregnancy may combine with malnutrition and poor health care to cause long-term medical problems for both the mother and child. A report by Save the Children found that, annually, 13 million children are born to women under age 20 worldwide. More than 90% of these births occur to women living in developing countries. Complications of pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of mortality among women between the ages of 15 and 19 in such areas, as they are the leading cause of mortality among older women.

The age of the mother is determined by the easily verified date when the pregnancy ends, not by the estimated date of conception.[2] Consequently, the statistics do not include women who first became pregnant before their 20th birthdays, if those pregnancies did not end until on or after their 20th birthdays.[2]

Rates by continent


Adolescent fertility correlates strongly with poverty in African nations.

The highest rate of teenage pregnancy in the world — 143 per 1,000 girls aged 15–19 years — is in sub-Saharan Africa.[3] Women in Africa, in general, get married at a much younger age than women elsewhere — leading to earlier pregnancies. In Nigeria, according to the Health and Demographic Survey in 1992, 47% of women aged 20–24 were married before 15, and 87% before 18. Also, 53% of those surveyed had given birth to a child before the age of 18.[4] African countries have the highest rates of teenage birth (2002)[5] According to data from World Bank, as of 2015, the highest incidence of births among 15- to 19-year-old girls was in Niger, Mali, Angola, Guinea, and Mozambique.[6]

A Save the Children report identified 10 countries where motherhood carried the most risks for young women and their babies. Of these, 9 were in sub-Saharan Africa, and Niger, Liberia, and Mali were the nations where girls were the most at-risk. In the 10 highest-risk nations, more than one in six teenage girls between the ages of 15 and 19 gave birth annually, and nearly one in seven babies born to these teenagers died before the age of one year.[7]


Surveys from Thailand have found that a significant minority of unmarried adolescents are sexually active. Although premarital sex is considered normal behavior for males, particularly with prostitutes, it is not always regarded as such for females. Most Thai youth reported that their first sexual experience, whether within or outside of marriage, was without contraception. The adolescent fertility rate in Thailand is relatively high at 60 per 1000. 25% of women admitted to hospitals in Thailand for complications of induced abortion are students. The Thai government has undertaken measures to inform the nation's youth about the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases and unplanned pregnancy.

According to the World Health Organization, in several Asian countries including Bangladesh and Indonesia, a large proportion (26-37%) of deaths among female adolescents can be attributed to maternal causes.[8]


In 2015, the birth rate among teenage women in Australia was 11.9 births per 1,000 women.[9] The rate has fallen from 55.5 births per 1,000 women in 1971, probably due to ease of access to effective birth control, rather than any decrease in sexual activity.[10]


The overall trend in Europe since 1970 has been a decrease in the total fertility rate, an increase in the age at which women experience their first birth, and a decrease in the number of births among teenagers.

The rates of teenage pregnancy may vary widely within a country. For instance, in the United Kingdom, the rate of adolescent pregnancy in 2002 was as high as 100.4 per 1000 among young women living in the London Borough of Lambeth, and as low as 20.2 per 1000 among residents in the Midlands local authority area of Rutland. In Italy, the teenage birth rate in central regions is only 3.3 per 1,000, but, in the Mezzogiorno it is 10.0 per 1000.

Teenage birth is often associated with economic and social issues: such as alcohol and drug misuse and, across 13 nations in the European Union, women who gave birth as teenagers were twice as likely to be living in poverty, compared with those who first gave birth when they were over 20.[11]

Bulgaria and Romania

Romania and Bulgaria have some of the highest teenage birth rates in Europe. As of 2015, Bulgaria had a birth rate of 37/1.000 women aged 15-19, and Romania of 34.[12] Both countries also have very large Romani populations, who have an occurrence of teenage pregnancies well above the local average.[13][14][15]

In recent years, the number of teenage mothers is declining in Bulgaria.

Number of teenage mothers in Bulgaria in the period 1990-2016 [16]
Year 1990 1995 2000 2005 2010 2015
All live births in Bulgaria 105,180 71,967 73,679 69,886 75,513 65,950
Mothers aged under twenty 22,518 16,278 12,787 10,625 8,411 6,274
Share of teenage mothers Increase 21.4% Increase22.6% Decrease 17.4% Decrease 15.2% Decrease 11.1% Decrease 9.5%


The Netherlands has a low rate of births and abortions among teenagers (5 births per 1,000 women aged 15–19 in 2002[5]). Compared with countries with higher teenage birth rates, the Dutch have a higher average age at first intercourse and increased levels of contraceptive use (including the "double Dutch" method of using both a hormonal contraception method and a condom ).

Nordic countries

Italy, Spain and Portugal

In some countries, such as Italy and Spain, the rate of adolescent pregnancy is low (6 births per 1,000 women aged 15–19 in 2002 in both countries).[5] These two countries also have low abortion rates (lower than Sweden and the other Nordic countries)[17] and their teenage pregnancy rates are among the lowest in Europe. However, Portugal, has a relatively high rate of teenage pregnancy (17 births per 1,000 women aged 15–19 in 2002).[5]

United Kingdom

The UK has one of the highest teenage birth rates in Europe with a rate of 26.4 teenage births per 1,000 women aged 15–19 in 2006, down from 27.9 births in 2001.[18] The UK also has a higher rate of abortion than most European countries. Of young Britons reported engaging in sexual intercourse whilst in their teens, 80% said they did not use a form of contraception , although a half of those under 16, and one-third of those between 16 and 19, said they did not use a form of contraception during their first encounter{{Citation needed|date=November 2019} ried.[19] Adolescent pregnancy is viewed as a matter of concern by both the British government and the British press[citation needed].

The Americas


The Canadian teenage birth rate in 2002 was 16 per 1000 [5] and the teenage pregnancy rate was 33.9. According to data from Statistics Canada, the Canadian teenage pregnancy rate has trended towards a steady decline for both younger (15-17) and older (18-19) teens in the period between 1992-2002.[20] Canada's highest teen pregnancy rates occur in small towns located in rural parts of peninsular Ontario. Alberta and Quebec have high teen pregnancy rates as well.


In 2016, the Minister of Health and Social Protection of Colombia, Alejandro Gaviria Uribe announced that "teenage pregnancy decreased by two percentage points breaking the growing tendency that had been seen since the nineties".[21]

United States

In 2013, the teenage birth rate in the United States reached a historic low: 26.6 births per 1,000 women aged 15–19.[22] More than three-quarters of these births are to adult women aged 18 or 19.[22] In 2005 in the U.S., the majority (57%) of teen pregnancies resulted in a live birth, 27% ended in an induced abortion, and 16% in a fetal loss.[23]

The U.S. teen birth rate was 53 births per 1,000 women aged 15–19 in 2002,[5] the highest in the developed world.[11] If all pregnancies, including those that end in abortion or miscarriage, are taken into account, the total rate in 2000 was 75.4 pregnancies per 1,000 girls. Nevada and the District of Columbia have the highest teen pregnancy rates in the U.S., while North Dakota has the lowest.[24] Over 80% of teenage pregnancies in the U.S. are unintended;[25] approximately one third end in abortion, one third end in spontaneous miscarriage, and one third will continue their pregnancy and keep their baby.[26]

However, the trend is decreasing: in 1990, the birth rate was 61.8, and the pregnancy rate 116.9 per thousand. This decline has manifested across all races, although teenagers of African-American and Hispanic descent retain a higher rate, in comparison to that of European-Americans and Asian-Americans. The Guttmacher Institute attributed about 25% of the decline to abstinence and 75% to the effective use of contraceptives.[24]

Within the United States teen pregnancy is often brought up in political discourse. The goal to limit teen pregnancy is shared by Republicans and Democrats, though avenues of reduction are usually different. Many Democrats cite teen pregnancy as proof of the continuing need for access to birth control and sexual education, while Republicans often cite a need for returning to conservative values, often including abstinence.

An inverse correlation has been noted between teen pregnancy rates and the quality of education in a state. A positive correlation, albeit weak, appears between a city's teen pregnancy rate and its average summer night temperature, especially in the Southern U.S. (Savageau, compiler, 1993–1995).


World Development Indicator

The birth rate for women aged 15–19 is one of the World Bank's World Development Indicators. The data for most countries and a variety of groupings (e.g. Sub-Saharan Africa or OECD members) are published regularly, and can be viewed or downloaded from a United Nations website.[27]

UN Statistics Division, live birth 2009

Per 1,000 women 15–19 years old:[28]

UN Statistics Division, estimates 1995-2010

Per 1,000 women 15–19 years old, source:[29]

Birth and abortion rates, 1996

Per 1000 women 15–19, (%aborted = %of teenage pregnancies ending in abortion ) source:[17][30][31][32][33]

Country birth rate abortion rate combined rate % aborted
Netherlands 7.7 3.9 11.6 33.6
Spain 7.5 4.9 12.4 39.5
Italy 6.9 6.7 13.3 50.4
Greece 12.2 1.3 13.5 9.6
Belgium 9.9 5.2 15.1 34.4
Germany 13.0 5.3 18.3 28.9
Finland 9.8 9.6 19.4 49.5
Ireland 16.7 4.6 21.3 21.6
France 9.4 13.2 22.6 58.4
Denmark 8.2 15.4 23.6 65.3
Sweden 7.7 17.7 25.4 69.7
Norway 13.6 18.3 31.9 57.4
Czech Republic 20.1 12.4 32.5 38.2
Iceland 21.5 20.6 42.1 48.9
Slovakia 30.5 13.1 43.6 30
Australia 20.1 23.9 44 54.3
Canada 22.3 22.1 44.4 49.8
Israel 32.0 14.3 46.3 30.9
United Kingdom 29.6 21.3 50.9 41.8
New Zealand 33.4 22.5 55.9 40.3
Hungary 29.9 30.2 60.1 50.2
Romania 40.0 37.9 77.9 48.7
United States 55.6 30.2 85.8 35.2

See also

  • Adolescent sexuality in the United States
  • Teenage pregnancy and sexual health in the United Kingdom


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  2. 2.0 2.1 U.S. Teenage Pregnancies, Births and Abortions: National and State Trends and Trends by Race and Ethnicity. 2010. "Pregnancies are the sum of births, abortions and miscarriages. Please note that in these tables, “age” refers to the woman’s age when the pregnancy ended. Consequently, actual numbers of pregnancies that occurred among teenagers are higher than those reported here, because most of the women who conceived at age 19 had their births or abortions after they turned 20 and, thus, were not counted as teenagers.". 
  3. Treffers P.E. (2003). "Teenage pregnancy, a worldwide problem". Nederlands tijdschrift voor geneeskunde 147 (47): 2320–5. PMID 14669537. 
  4. Locoh, Therese. (2000). "Early Marriage And Motherhood In Sub-Saharan Africa." WIN News. Retrieved July 7, 2006.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 Indicator: Births per 1000 women (15-19 ys) – 2002 UNFPA, State of World Population 2003, Retrieved Jan 22, 2007.
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  7. Pregnancy and childbirth are leading causes of death in teenage girls in developing countries
  8. Mehta, Suman, Groenen, Riet, & Roque, Francisco. United Nations Social and Economic Commission for Asia and the Pacific. (1998). Adolescents in Changing Times: Issues and Perspectives for Adolescent Reproductive Health in The ESCAP Region . Retrieved July 7, 2006.
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  15. The Politics of Gender: A Survey By Yoke-Lian Lee
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  18. Social Trends 38 Chapter 2 pp 23
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  21. "Disminuye número de embarazos adolescentes en Colombia - ELESPECTADOR.COM". 7 September 2016. 
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  23. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2011) Health Disparities and Inequality Report -- United States, MMWR, Jan 14, 2011 volume 60.
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  32. "Statistical Yearbook 2008". 
  33. Table 4.1, data from 1996 , Irish Crisis Pregnancy Agency, Published 2006 of teenage pregnancy was the original source. Read more.