1. News & Issues

Teenage Pregnancy, Teen Birth Rates and Teen Sex Statistics 2006-2011

Data from the CDC's Teen Sexuality Survey Covering 2006-2010

By

Updated November 30, 2011
Factors that influence teen pregnancies were the focus of the October 2011 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report "Teenagers in the United States: Sexual Activity, Contraceptive Use, and Childbearing, 2006–2010 National Survey of Family Growth." Below is a breakdown of the report's statistical information on the teen pregnancies, births and sexual activity of males and females aged 15–19 in the US in 2006–2010 and comparisons to select years to identify trends. (A separate article examines the contraceptive use of teens as identified in the CDC report.)

Teen Birth

In 2009, the birth rate for females age 15-19 was 39.1 births per 1,000 females -- a historic low for the US but significantly higher than other developed countries such as Canada (14 per 1,000), Germany (10 per 1,000) and Italy (7 per 1,000). This reflects a downward trend of nearly two decades broken only by a slight increase in teen pregnancy the mid 2000s.

The 2009 number indicates a decline of 37% from the peak teen birth rate in 1991 of 61.8 births per 1,000. Teen birth rates declined from 1991 to 2005 (40.5 births per 1,000), increased 5% from 2005 to 2007 (41.5 per 1,000), and again continued to drop.

Teen Pregnancy

The CDC report includes age-specific pregnancy rates (which factor in miscarriages, stillbirths and abortions) using methodology consistent with past rates. The latest date available reveals that in 2005, the teen pregnancy rate in the US was 71 per 1,000 females age 15-19, 39% lower than 1990 (116 per 1,000). Breaking those numbers down further, the pregnancy rate for girls 15-17 declined from 1990 (77 per 1,000) to 2005 (40 per 1,000); for girls 18-19 the rate declined from 1990 (168 per 1,000) to 2005 (118 per 1,000).

In reporting these statistics, the CDC relied on data from the Guttmacher Institute which found an increase in teen pregnancy rates from 2005 to 2006, paralleling the increase in birth rates in that time period. Guttmacher estimates that the teen pregnancy rate rose 3% from 2005 to 2006, reflecting an increase in both birth rates and abortion rates. Additional data reveals differences between age groups and races. In 2005 the teen pregnancy rate varied as follows: for white teens, 44 pregnancies per 1,000 females; for black teens, 124 per 1,000; for Hispanic teens, 129 per 1,000. This was a significant reduction from teen pregnancy rates for 1990 among all races: white teens, 86 per 1,000 females; black teens, 189 per 1,000; Hispanic teens, 167 per 1,000.

Teen Sexual Activity

In the time period measured by the CDC report (2006-2010), the following data was determined from interviews conducted with never-married males and females age 15-19:

  • Sexual Intercourse (defined as heterosexual vaginal intercourse) 43% of females and 42% of males had experienced sexual intercourse at least once. This is a decline from sexual intercourse rates for females (51%) and males (60%) in 1988.
  • Frequency of Sex For females, 25% had sex in the last month, 31% had sex in the last 3 months, and 39% had sex in the past year; for males, 22% had sex in the past month, 28% had sex in the past 3 months, and 37% had sex in the past year.
  • Relationship with Partner For teens having sex for the first time, the majority identify their partner as someone with whom they were "going steady" -- 70% of females and 56% of males. More males than females had first sex with someone they had just met or were "just friends" with -- 28% of males and 16% of females. Additional data reveals differences between racial backgrounds and age groups. Teens who had sex for the first time with someone they'd just met include: 8% of Hispanic females, 16% of white females, and 21% of black females; 32% of Hispanic males, 26% of while males, and 30% of black males; 24% of females age 14 or under, 14% of females age 15-16, and 10% of females age 17-19; 38% of males age 14 or under, 24% of males age 15-16, and 20% of males age 17-19.
  • Number of Sexual Partners The earlier a teen engages in sexual intercourse, the more likely she/he is to have more sexual partners than the teen who delays having sex. In the year prior to the survey, 25% of teen females and 21% of teen males had sex with only one partner. The older the teen, the greater the likelihood that she/he had two or more sexual partners in the previous year. Of females age 15-17, only 6.1% had two or three partners in the past year compared to 16% of females age 18-19. The age difference in males was only significant for those who had four or more partners in the past year -- 3% of males age 15-17 compared to 6% of males 18-19. Only about 4% of male and female teens had sex with four or more partners in the past year.

Source:
"Teenagers in the United States: Sexual Activity, Contraceptive Use, and Childbearing, 2006–2010 National Survey of Family Growth." U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. Vital and Health Statistics, Series 23, Number 31, October 2011.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.