Research from a range of disciplines has consistently found teen births to have profound negative impacts on the health, education, social and economic future of teen mothers and their children.
Teenage mothers experience higher rates of premature birth and their babies have been found to exhibit higher rates of low birth weight and death. They are also more likely to be a single parent, drop out of high school and experience poverty.
- The children of teenage mothers are at higher risk of experiencing chronic medical conditions, lower cognitive attainment and proficiency scores at kindergarten entry, higher rates of abuse or neglect, increased likelihood of dropping out of high school and higher rates of unemployment. These children are themsleves also more likely to give birth as a teenager.
Teen Births is a Headline Indicator of the Florida Cabinet for Children and Youth.
Click link below for a list of the Cabinet’s Headline Indicators
Birth rates for teens 15-17 (approximately 96% of all births to teens under the age of 18 are accounted for by 15-17 year olds) peaked in the late 1950’s and declined sharply and consistently until the mid 1980’s when rates began a five-year increase. Rates peaked in 1991 and, except for another brief and mild increase in the mid 2000’s, resumed their decline hitting a record low in 2009 (see chart 1).
- “The U.S. birth rate for teenagers in 2009 was the lowest it has ever been in the nearly 70 years for which national data are available” (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, NCHS Data Brief, Number 58, February 2011).
Pinellas County’s teen birth rates declined 54% between 1990 and 2009 compared to 61% and 46% for Florida and the U.S., respectively. In 2009, there were approximately 124,000 births annually in the U.S. to mothers 15-17 years of age.
- Some research contends that about one quarter of the decline in birth rates was attributable to reduced sexual activity and three-quarters to increased contraceptive use (Santelli JS et al., American Journal of Public Health, 2007, 97(1):150-156).
Pinellas County Trends
In 2009, there were 275 births to mothers between 15 and 17 years of age (97% reported they were unmarried), a 10% decrease from 2008 and the lowest number of births in this age group in more than thirty years. This translated into a rate of 18.0 births per 1000 females in this age category. This is slightly above the average rate for Florida but below the rates for similarly-sized counties except Palm Beach (see chart 2). Compared to all Florida counties, Pinellas ranked 35th out of 67 counties in 2009. Click the following link to see a thematic map of all Florida counties (Teen Births - Florida Teen Birth Rate by County - 2009).
- NOTE: Birth rates per 1000 population are calculated by the Florida Department of Health using intercensal population estimates provided by the Florida Legislature’s Office of Economic and Demographic Research. As a result, birth rate estimates may contain significant margins of error.
- In 2009, 8.4% of Pinellas’ mothers between 15 and17 years of age had at least one previous live birth. This figure is below the state average of 9.5%.
Pinellas County Birth Rates by Race and Ethnicity
Substantial differences exist in birth rates when viewed by race and ethnicity (see chart 3). Rates for black females in the 15 to17 year age group are approximately four times that of whites. The rates for Hispanic females, although somewhat inconsistent due to the very small numbers, are substantially higher than the average for the County.
Pinellas County Teen Births by ZIP Code
Based on 2008 Department of Health data, the ZIP codes with the highest number of births to teens 15-17 are 33705, 33711 and 33712. These ZIP codes are located in the southern portion of Pinellas County (Teen Births by ZIP Code Map) and are among those areas with the highest number of families in poverty.
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