Student Well-Being

One in Five Teen Moms Gives Birth Again in Teen Years

By Nirvi Shah — April 03, 2013 1 min read
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Among older teenagers who had babies in 2010, nearly 20 percent were giving birth to their second child, new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show.

Of the 367,000 babies born to women ages 15 to 19, the CDC said, about 18 percent—about 66,000 infants—were born to teenagers who had given birth before. While the number may sound high, it’s actually a decrease over previous years, although teen pregnancy rates in general are at all-time lows in the United States.

As if anyone needs reminding, the CDC notes that giving birth as a teenager can affect a young woman’s health, her economic security, and every other aspect of her life. Having two babies so young makes it even more difficult for young women to attend school and get jobs. And when teen mothers give birth to second babies while still younger than 20, these infants are more likely to be born early and underweight.

Data gathered by the CDC found that about 91 percent of teen mothers used some form of birth control in the first few months after giving birth, but less than a quarter were using a method considered to be among the most effective.

The CDC says additional steps must be taken to prevent repeat births among teenagers, including linking pregnant and parenting teens to home-visiting and similar programs that address a broad range of needs, and offering postpartum contraception to teens, including long-acting methods of reversible contraception. (I wonder if watching a few episodes of MTV’s “Teen Mom” series might have a similarly dissuasive effect.)

The highest percentage of repeat teen births were among American Indian, Hispanic, and African-American teenagers; the lowest rate—about 15 percent—was shown in white young women.

Another thing to consider: The CDC says each year teen childbearing costs the United States approximately $11 billion.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Rules for Engagement blog.