Change Indicator

Young Mothers - Births to mothers under age 20 in Pennsylvania

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Why This Indicator Matters

Having children at a young age has been linked to numerous social, economic, and health consequences. Teenage pregnancy is associated with a higher risk of socioeconomic disadvantage, mental health problems, and substance use during pregnancy, which can indirectly lead to adverse pregnancy and birth outcomes.[1] This includes an increased likelihood of eclampsia, puerperal endometritis, systemic infections during pregnancy as well as the baby being born preterm, low birth weight, and with severe neonatal conditions.[2] While the overall teen birth rate has been declining over the past decade in both Pennsylvania and the country as a whole, it still remains substantially higher in the United States than many other developed nations and there are clear racial and ethnic disparities in its prevalence.[3] In fact, many individual, family, and community characteristics have been found to play an important role in predicting the likelihood adolescent childbearing. Youth who feel unsupported from their families, have lower levels of education, experience a disconnection from their communities, and live in areas with high rates of substance use and violence are more likely to become pregnant.[4] The disproportionalities that exist in teenage pregnancy by race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status are largely attributed to inequities in access to family planning services, differences in attitudes about contraception and childbearing, and a general distrust of medical professionals due to historical maltreatment.[5]

[1] Wong, S. P., Twynstra, J., Gilliland, J. A., Cook, J. L., & Seabrook, J. A. (2020). Risk Factors and Birth Outcomes Associated with Teenage Pregnancy: A Canadian Sample. Journal of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology, 33(2), 153-159.

[3] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021). Teen Pregnancy. Division of Reproductive Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.

[4] Office of Population Affairs. (2023). Trends in Teen Pregnancy and Childbearing. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Health.

[5] Dehlendorf, C., Rodriguez, M. I., Levy, K., Borrero, S., & Steinauer, J. (2010). Disparities in Family Planning. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 202(3), 214–220.

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Definition and Source



The number and percent of births to mothers under age 20.

Data Source

Pennsylvania Department of Health, Bureau of Health Statistics and Research. Pennsylvania Vital Statistics annual report series. The Pennsylvania Department of Health specifically disclaims responsibility for any analyses, interpretations, or conclusions.


Includes only those mothers whose age is known.

ND = DATA NOT DISPLAYED. Statistics (rates, ratios, percents) are not calculated and displayed for counts less than 10 (or less than 3 for Bayesian/Nearest Neighbor rates). This is due to the unreliability of statistics based on small numbers of events.

Last Updated

May 2024