Southeastern Idaho Public Health

Impacts of Teen Pregnancy

In 2013, 1,426 Idaho girls, ages 15-19, gave birth. Of those, 173 occurred in Southeastern Idaho Public Health’s eight counties. Adolescent pregnancies carry health, social, and economic costs, not only for the mother and child, but for the whole community.

Health:

  • Many adolescents do not seek medical care for their pregnancies, increasing the likelihood of significant health problems for the mother and child.
  • Children born to teen mothers are more likely to have mental and physical health problems.
  • Babies of teen mothers have lower birth weights.

Social:

  • Fifty-percent of teen mothers drop out of high school and do not return.
  • Sons of teen mothers are more likely to end up in prison.
  • Daughters of teen mothers are more likely to become young mothers themselves.

Economic:

  • In 2010, unplanned teen pregnancies in Idaho cost taxpayers $50 million in Medicare, foster care, and incarceration. Nationally, teen childbearing costs taxpayers at least $9.4 billion.
  • Eighty-percent of teen mothers who drop out of high school end up living in poverty and/or on welfare.

“The teen birthrate in Idaho declined 39% between 1991 and 2010. The progress Idaho has made in reducing teen childbearing saved taxpayers an estimated $43 million in 2010 alone compared to the costs they would have incurred had the rates not fallen.” (The National Campaign, 2014).

Teen childbearing can carry health, economic, and social costs for mothers and their children. Teen births in the US have declined, but still more than 273,000 infants were born to teens ages 15 to 19 in 2013. The good news is that more teens are waiting to have sex, and for sexually active teens, nearly 90% used birth control the last time they had sex. However, teens most often use condoms and birth control pills, which are less effective at preventing pregnancy when not used consistently and correctly. Intrauterine devices (IUDs) and implants, known as Long-Acting Reversible Contraception (LARC), are the most effective types of birth control for teens. LARC is safe to use, does not require taking a pill each day or doing something each time before having sex, and can prevent pregnancy for 3 to 10 years, depending on the method. Less than 1% of LARC users would become pregnant during the first year of use.