Almost 20% of teen births are not a first child

A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that nearly one in five births to U.S. teens ages 15-19 is not a first child. Of the 365,000 teens that gave birth in 2010, almost 67,000 (18.3%) have had at least one child before, according to the report that’s down from 19.5% in 2007. Most were the teen mom’s second child (86%).

The good news however is that more teen moms are using birth control, the report says — almost 91% used some form of contraception after having had a baby. More than three quarters of sexually active teen mothers used one of the “most” or “moderately effective” contraceptive methods after having a baby; they were more likely than other sexually active teens to use a long-acting method (21.5% vs. 4.5%), the report finds. Nearly all teen moms want to avoid pregnancy and are taking steps to avoid a repeat pregnancy.

The highest percentages of repeat teen births were among American Indian/Alaska natives (21.6%), Hispanics (20.9%), and blacks (20.4%). The lowest percentage was among whites (14.8%). Texas had the highest percentage of any state (22%) and New Hampshire had the lowest (10%). In eight states — Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, Oklahoma, and Texas — 20% of all teen births were repeats. In seven states — Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, and Wyoming — less than 15% were repeats.

So while the headlines emphasize the amount of second teenage births, the reality is that the number of second births has gone down and more teenagers are using contraceptive methods in order to avoid further births.