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Know the Facts

Teen pregnancy can have serious consequences for girls and guys, including decreased chances of finishing school, a difficult financial future, and health risks for both mother and child. If you are thinking about having sex, know that the effects can last a lifetime.

Fact: Three out of ten teenage girls in the United States get pregnant at least once before age 20—that amounts to 745,000 teen pregnancies each year.

Fact: The United States has the highest teen pregnancy rate in the industrialized world—twice as high as in England or Canada and eight times as high as in the Netherlands or Japan.

Fact: Two-thirds of teen pregnancies occur among 18- and 19-year-olds, but that doesn’t mean that you’re immune if you are under 18.

Fact: Almost 50 percent of teens have never considered how a pregnancy would affect their lives.

Fact: Parenthood is the leading reason why teen girls drop out of school. Less than half of teen mothers ever graduate from high school and fewer than two percent earn a college degree by age 30.

Fact: Children of teen mothers do worse in school than those born to older parents—they are 50 percent more likely to repeat a grade, they are less likely to complete high school, and they do not perform as well on standardized tests.

Fact: Pregnant teens are far less likely to receive timely and consistent medical care than those who get pregnant at a later age. The children of teen mothers are more likely to be born prematurely and at low birth weight, and they are two times more likely to suffer abuse and neglect compared to children of older mothers.

Fact: Teen mothers are more likely to smoke during pregnancy, they are often not at adequate weight before pregnancy—nor do they gain the appropriate amount of weight during pregnancy.

Fact: Two-thirds of families begun by a young unmarried mother are poor. More than half of all mothers on welfare had their first child as a teenager.

Fact: Teen mothers are likely to have a second birth relatively soon: about one-fourth have a second child within 24 months of the first birth. This can further impede their ability to finish school (or keep a job) and to escape poverty.

Fact: Eight out of ten fathers don’t marry the mother of their child. These absent fathers pay less than $800 annually for child support, often because they are poor themselves.

Fact: Children who live apart from their fathers are also five times more likely to be poor than children with both parents at home.

Fact: The daughters of young teen mothers are three times more likely to become teen mothers themselves.

Fact: The sons of teen mothers are twice as likely to end up in prison.

The facts are disturbing. What can you do? First of all, have a plan.

Read about having a plan to avoid pregnancy.