While the rate of teen pregnancies in the United States has fallen since the 1990s, the number of young women who become pregnant unintentionally is still higher in the United States than in any other developed nation.
Teen pregnancies and high rates of unintended pregnancies in general (according to the Guttmacher Institute, 51 percent of pregnancies in the general population are unplanned) don't only have health and social repercussions for the women and families who are affected by them. Systems and communities on a larger scale are affected as well.
In 2009, 39.1 out of 1,000 women aged 15 to 19 gave birth. This number does not include the number of teens who get pregnant and have a miscarriage or choose to end their pregnancy (if the choice is available). Because teenagers' bodies are less equipped to carry a birth to term than many adult women's bodies, high teen pregnancy rates are also accompanied by high rates of pre-term birth, more complications during pregnancy/delivery, and a variety of other health concerns for mother and child.
Furthermore, children of teenage mothers are more likely to have behavioral or health issues, not graduate from high school or become teenage parents themselves. The costs associated with some of these complications is estimated to be more than $9 billion. And because many teen parents receive medical assistance from the government through programs like Medicaid, these costs are often shouldered by American taxpayers.
The CDC has taken all of these social and health factors into account in making the prevention of teen pregnancies a priority in their Winnable Battles of Public Health. When women have access to and accurate information about contraception, when providers and patients are equipped with training or tips on discussing sexual health and reproduction, when communities are open and honest with adolescents, listen to their concerns or questions and make an effort to understand their day-to-day realities, rates of teen pregnancies will decrease.