What is the impact of nonmarital teenage pregnancy?

Since 1990, the teen pregnancy rate in the U.S. has dropped by half. However, In 2010 (most current statistics) there were approximately 614,000 teen pregnancies in the U.S. Based on this statistic, a teenage girl has a 1 in 4 chance of getting pregnant at least once before the age of 20.1

A pregnancy can either lead to a live birth, a miscarriage, or an abortion. In 2010, 60% of teen pregnancies resulted in a live birth, 15% in miscarriage, and 26% resulted in abortion.1 The majority of teen mothers were unmarried when their child was born (88% in 2010).2

Teenage mothers are more likely than older mothers to experience:
• Serious health and emotional problems3-6
• Poverty7
• Less education7
• Single parenthood2

Fathers of children born to teen mothers are more likely than other fathers to experience:8-10
• Decreased earnings
• Less education
• Depression
• Compared to older fathers, teen fathers are
— less likely to have plans for a future job
— more likely to have anxiety
— more likely to be homeless or in unstable household

Children born to teen mothers are more likely than other children to experience:11-17
• Health problems
• Abuse and neglect
• Poverty
• Less education
• Incarceration


  1. Kost K, Henshaw S and Carlin L, U.S. Teenage Pregnancies, Births and Abortions: National and State Trends and Trends by Race and Ethnicity, 2010. http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/USTPtrends.pdf . Accessed June 26, 2012.
  2. National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, “Why it Matters: Teen childbearing, Single Parenthood and Father Involvement,” http://thenationalcampaign.org/resource/why-it-matters-teen-childbearing-single-parenthood-and-father-involvement  Accessed May 2016
  3. Miles MS, Holditch-Davis D, Schwartz TA, Scher M. Depressive symptoms in mothers of prematurely born infants. J Dev Behav Pediatr. 2007;28(1):36-44.
  4. Kalil A, Kunz J. Teenage childbearing, marital status, and depressive symptoms in later life. Child Dev. 2002;73(6):1748-1760.
  5. Brooks DW, “Teenagers and High Risk Pregnancy,” http://pregnancy.lovetoknow.com/wiki/Teenagers_and_High_Risk_Pregnancy Accessed May 2014
  6. Gillmore MR, Gilchrist L, Lee J, Oxford ML. Women who gave birth as unmarried adolescents: trends in substance use from adolescence to adulthood. J Adolesc Health. 2006;39(2):237-243.
  7. National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, “Why it Matters: Teen Childbearing, Education, And Economic Wellbeing,” http://thenationalcampaign.org/resource/why-it-matters-teen-childbearing-education-and-economic-wellbeing Accessed May 2016
  8. Hofferth SL, Reid L, Mott FL. The effects of early childbearing on schooling over time. Fam Plann Perspect. 2001;33(6):259-67.
  9. Quinlivan JA, Condon J. Anxiety and depression in fathers in teenage pregnancy. Aust N Z J Psychiatry. 2005;39(10):915-920.
  10. Heath DT, Mckenry PC, Leigh GK. The consequences of adolescent parenthood on men’s depression, parental satisfaction, and fertility in adulthood. J Soc Serv Res. 1995;20(3-4):127-48.
  11. da Silva AA, Simoes VM, Barbieri MA, et al. Young maternal age and preterm birth. Paediatr Perinat Epidemiol. 2003;17(4):332-329.
  12. Chen XK, Wen SW, Fleming N, Demissie K, Rhoads GG, Walker M. Teenage pregnancy and adverse birth outcomes: a large population based retrospective cohort study. Int J Epidemiol. 2007;36(2):368-373.
  13. Cunnington AJ. What’s so bad about teenage pregnancy? J Fam Plann Reprod Health Care. 2001;27(1):36-41.
  14. Harden KP, Lynch SK, Turkheimer E, et al. A behavior genetic investigation of adolescent motherhood and offspring mental health problems. J Abnorm Psychol. 2007;116(4):667-683.
  15. Zhou Y, Hallisey EJ, Freymann GR. Identifying perinatal risk factors for infant maltreatment: an ecological approach. Int J Health Geogr. 2006;5:53.
  16. Gueorguieva RV, Carter RL, Ariet M, Roth J, Mahan CS, Resnick MB. Effect of teenage pregnancy on educational disabilities in kindergarten. Am J Epidemiol. 2001;154(3):212-220.
  17. National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancies, “Why it Matters: Teen Childbearing and Infant Health”http://thenationalcampaign.org/resource/why-it-matters

Updated: May 2016