Teen Pregnancy, Contraception, Abortion Facts

The United States has the highest teen pregnancy rate of all developed countries.

A sexually active teen who does not use contraception has a 90% chance of becoming pregnant within one year.

Most very young teens have not had intercourse: 8 in 10 girls and 7 in 10 boys are sexually inexperienced at age 15. Most young people begin having sex in their mid-to-late teens, about 8 years before they marry; more than half of 17-year-olds have had intercourse.

Nearly 2/3 (64%) of sexually active 15-17-year-old women have partners who are within 2 years of their age; 29% have sexual partners who are 3-5 years older, and 7% have partners who are 6 or more years older.

6 in 10 teen pregnancies occur among 18-19 year olds.

9 in 10 sexually active women and their partners use a contraceptive method although not always consistently or correctly.

Nearly 1 million teens become pregnant each year; 78% of these pregnancies are unintended.

1/3 of pregnant teens receive inadequate prenatal care; babies born to young mothers are more likely to be low-birth-weight, to have childhood health problems and to be hospitalized than are those born to older mothers.

80% of babies born to unmarried teens who dropped out of high school are now living in poverty. In contrast only 8% of children born to married high school graduates aged 20 or older are living in poverty.

Teens who give birth are much more likely to come from poor or low-income families (83%) than are teens who have abortions (61%) or teens in general (38%).

At current rates, 43% of American women will have at an abortion by age 45.

¼ of teen mothers have a second child within 2 years of their first.

Every year 3 million teens - about 1 in 4 sexually experienced teens - acquire a sexually transmitted infection. Approximately half of all new HIV infections in the US occur among young people under age 25.

Since 1980, abortion rates among sexually experienced teens have declined steadily, because fewer teens are becoming pregnant, and in recent years, fewer pregnant teens have chosen to have an abortion.

Birth rates during 1991-1996 declined for teens in all racial and ethnic groups.

Experts estimate that as many as 50% of teen pregnancies could be averted by using Emergency Contraception.

New study shows a "significant" increase in sexual content on TV over the last 2 years. The number of episodes with sexual content increased from 56% in the 1997-1998 season to 68% of all episodes in the 1999-2000 season.

Resources: Alan Guttmacher Institute, Advocates for Youth, National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Washington State Department of Health, Kaiser Family Foundation.
updated: 09/20/2001

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