Children Born to Teenage Mothers

Girl

An increasing number of children are being born to teenage mothers. It has been reported that children born to teenage mothers experience significant life-long challenges.

Social science research indicates that teenage mothers are more likely to drop out of high school and live in poverty, and their children frequently experience health and developmental problems (Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2004). While millions of American families struggle individually with the emotional and economic challenges that unintended pregnancy can bring, teen pregnancy poses a significant financial burden to society at large — an estimated $7 billion per year (Annie E. Casey Foundation, 1998; National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, 2003a).[1]

Data indicates that teen pregnancy rates vary widely by race and ethnicity. In 2000, the pregnancy rate for white teens was 56.9 per 1,000 women 15-19 years of age. The pregnancy rate for Hispanic teens was 132. For African American teens it was 151 (Abma et al., 2004).[2] In general, it has been reported that teenage mothers do not fare as well as their peers who delay childbearing:

– Their family incomes are lower.

– They are more likely to be poor and receive welfare. – They are less educated.

– They are less likely to be married.

– Their children lag in standards of early development.

(AGI, 1999; Hoffman, 1998; National Campaign To Prevent Teen Pregnancy, 2003a; National Campaign To Prevent Teen Pregnancy, 2004a).[3]

In the United States, nearly 80 percent of teen mothers eventually go on welfare. According to one study, more than 75 percent of all unmarried teen mothers began receiving welfare within five years of giving birth (Annie E. Casey Foundation, 1998; National Campaign To Prevent Teen Pregnancy, 2004).

 Scared Girl

In 2001, only 30 percent of teenage mothers received child support payments (Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2004). Although not as severe as those for teen mothers, the effects of early childbearing are also negative for teen fathers. They are more likely to engage in delinquent behaviors such as alcohol abuse or drug dealing, and they complete fewer years of schooling than their childless peers. One study found that the fathers of children born to teen mothers earned an estimated average of $3,400 less per year than the fathers of children born to mothers who were 20 or 21, over the course of 18 years following the birth of their first child (Annie E. Casey Foundation, 1998).

The offspring of teenage mothers are more likely to be poor, abused, or neglected than those of women who delay childbearing, and they are less likely to receive proper nutrition, health care, and cognitive and social stimulation (Annie E. Casey Foundation, 1998; Maynard, 1997). On average, a child born to a teenage mother visits a medical provider 3.8 times per year, versus 4.3 times for a child born to a mother over the age of 20 years (National Campaign To Prevent Teen Pregnancy, 2004b).

Child Post

Experts estimate that the annual costs of births to teens totals about $7 billion in tax revenues, public assistance, child health care, foster care, and involvement with the criminal justice system. In addition, during her first 13 years of parenthood, the average teenage mother receives approximately $1,400 per year in support from Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) and the federal food stamp program (Annie E. Casey Foundation, 1998)

Sources: Annie E. Casey Foundation. (1998). Kids Count Special Report: When Teens Have Sex: Issues and Trends. Baltimore, MD: Annie E. Casey Foundation. Abma, J.C., et al. (2004). Teenagers in the United States: Sexual Activity, Contraceptive Use, and Childbearing, 2002. National Center for Health Statistics. Vital Health Statistics, 23(24). AGI — Alan Guttmacher Institute. (1995, accessed 1999, August 30). Issues in Brief: Lawmakers Grapple with Parents’ Role in Teen Access to Reproductive Health Care. [Online]. http://www.agi-usa.org/pubs/ib6.html.

Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art

[1] Annie E. Casey Foundation. (1998). Kids Count Special Report: When Teens Have Sex: Issues and Trends. Baltimore, MD: Annie E. Casey Foundation.

[2] Abma, J.C., et al. (2004). Teenagers in the United States: Sexual Activity, Contraceptive Use, and Childbearing, 2002. National Center for Health Statistics. Vital Health Statistics, 23(24).

[3] AGI — Alan Guttmacher Institute. (1995, accessed 1999, August 30). Issues in Brief: Lawmakers Grapple with Parents’ Role in Teen Access to Reproductive Health Care. [Online]. http://www.agi-usa.org/pubs/ib6.html.

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