Teen Births

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Number of births per 1,000 female population ages 15-19. The 2024 Annual Data Release used data from 2016-2022 for this measure.

Early childbearing during teenage years has been associated with adverse health outcomes for the mother-child unit, the impacts of which can extend to partners, other family members, and the community. Negative outcomes for children and mothers with early childbearing are best explained by social disadvantage and adversity.1 Mothers who give birth during teen years face barriers attaining an education at or above high school completion and face additional mental and physical stress as well as ongoing lack of community support.2-4 Young parents may struggle to find affordable, quality childcare and suitable transportation, further hampering options for education or employment.

Inequities exist in support for pregnant and parenting youth. Parenting youth who are without documentation status in the United States may face additional barriers to accessing healthcare and education, making their families particularly vulnerable.5

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Data and methods

Data Source

National Center for Health Statistics - Natality Files; Census Population Estimates Program

The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) provides birth and death data drawn from the National Vital Statistics System (NVSS). These data are submitted to the NVSS by the vital registration systems operated in the jurisdictions legally responsible for registering vital events (i.e., births, deaths, marriages, divorces, and fetal deaths). 

The Census Bureau’s Population Estimates Program (PEP) uses data on births, deaths, and migration to estimate population changes occurring since the most recent decennial census and produce a vintage, or annual time series of estimates. Each vintage includes the current data year and revised estimates for any earlier years since the last decennial census. Because each vintage of estimates includes all years since the most recent decennial census, the latest vintage supersedes all other estimates produced since the previous decennial census. See the Population Estimates Program methodology for statements and release notes for each vintage of population estimates.

Key Measure Methods

Teen Births is a rate

Teen Births is the number of births to females ages 15-19 per 1,000 females in a county. Rates measure the number of events (e.g., deaths, births, etc.) in a given time period divided by the average number of people at risk during that period. Rates help us compare health data across counties with different population sizes.

Births are counted in the mother's county of residence

Births are counted in the county corresponding to the mother’s address on the child’s birth certificate, regardless of where the child was born.

Some data are suppressed

A missing value is reported for counties with fewer than 10 teen births in the time frame.

Caution should be used when comparing these estimates across years

Caution should be used when comparing across years due to methods changes described in the “The method for calculating Teen Births has changed” section.

Measure limitations

The primary limitation of this measure is that it does not capture births among teens younger than 15. Also, teen births and teen pregnancy are distinct but related measures. Although all births are the culmination of a pregnancy, not all pregnancies culminate in a birth.


The numerator is the total number of births to mothers ages 15-19 in the 7-year time period.


The denominator is the aggregate female population, ages 15-19, over the 7-year time period.

The method for calculating Teen Births has changed

In the 2024 Annual Data Release, data from the Census Bureau's Population Estimates Program were used in the calculation of the denominator for this measure. In previous data releases, the denominator was calculated from the National Center for Health Statistics Bridged-Race Population Estimates; this data series was discontinued in 2023. The denominator change and updates to race categories in the 2024 Annual Data Release mean that comparisons with previous years should be made with caution.

Can This Measure Be Used to Track Progress

This measure can be used to track progress with some caveats. The estimate provided in the Health Snapshots is a 7-year average. However, in most counties, single-year estimates may be obtained from the resource below.

Finding More Data

Disaggregation means breaking data down into smaller, meaningful subgroups. Disaggregated data are often broken down by characteristics of people or where they live. Disaggregated data can reveal inequalities that are otherwise hidden. These data can be disaggregated by:

  • Age
  • Race

We recommend starting with the CDC Wonder database, which contains information on birth rates by race, ethnicity, age, gender, and geography of mother and child for counties with populations greater than 100,000. For counties with smaller populations, most states maintain databases of birth and death data. Another way to access birth-rate data is through the Community Commons. Data by race can be found for some communities. Note that to access this report you will need to login, but registration is free.


1 SmithBattle L. Reframing the risks and losses of teen mothering. The American Journal of Maternal/ Child Nursing. 2009;34(2):122-128.

2 Hoffman SD, Maynard RA eds. Kids having kids: economic costs and social consequences of teen pregnancy (2nd ed.). Washington, D.C.: Urban Institute Press; 2008.

3 Chang T, Choi H, Richardson CR, Davis MM Implications of teen birth for overweight and obesity in adulthood. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 2013;209(2):110-e1.

4 SmithBattle L, Freed P. Teen mothers' mental health. MCN: The American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing. 2016;41(1):31-36.

5 Toomey RB, Umaña-Taylor AJ, Williams DR, et al. Impact of Arizona's SB 1070 immigration law on utilization of health care and public assistance among Mexican-origin adolescent mothers and their mother figures. American Journal of Public Health. 2014;104:S28-S34.

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