Health >> Teen Births

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Teen Births:  Summary & Data Highlights

Teen births to Latinas have fallen to new lows in King County.  Nevertheless, substantial disparities by race/ethnicity persist.

Fewer than 2 in 100 girls who give birth before age 18 finish college by age 30, and only 4 in 10 teen moms finish high school, limiting the opportunities they can offer to their children. In addition, infants born to mothers younger than 18 are at increased risk for low birthweight and death.

For trend graphs, 3-year rolling averages were used to smooth out the large effects of year-to-year fluctuations. 

The rate of teen births among King County Latinas has dropped significantly. 

  • Births to Latina teens in King County declined from a rate of 44.5 per 1,000 females age 15-17 in 2001-2003 to 35.9 per 1,000 in 2008-2010.
  • This trend echoes earlier declines in teen births (from the early 1990s until the early 2000s) among American Indians/Alaska Natives, Asians/Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders, Blacks, and Whites. Over the past decade, teen birth rates in these groups have leveled off (data not shown).
  • Over the long term, teen births in King County declined from a peak of 23.9 per 1,000 in 1992 to 8.2 per 1,000 in 2010 (data not shown).
    • The 2010 rate for Washington State was 13.0 per 1,000 (data not shown).
    • The 2010 rate for the United States was 17.3 per 1,000 (data not shown). 

To improve the likelihood of detecting statistically significant differences, 5 years of data were combined (2006 through 2010) when comparing demographic groups. The King County 2006-2010 teen birth rate was 9.6 births per 1,000 females age 15-17.

Disparities in teen births by race/ethnicity persist.

  • The birth rate for Latina teens was 6 times the rate for Asian/Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander teens (37.4 vs. 5.8 births per 1,000 females age 15-17).
  • At 26.9 births per 1,000 females age 15-17, the birth rate among American Indian/Native American teens was higher than that of all other groups except Latinas.
  • The birth rate for Black teens was almost double the rate for White teens (16.2 vs. 8.7 per 1,000).

Place matters:  High teen birth rates cluster in South Region.

  • The teen birth rate was higher in South Region (14.6 births per 1,000) than in all other regions.  The rate in Seattle (9.1 per 1,000) was higher than in East (3.1 per 1,000) and North (4.7 per 1,000) regions.
    • At 27.7 per 1,000, West Kent had one of the highest rates of teen births in King County.
    • All neighborhoods and cities with adolescent birth rates greater than the King County average were found in South King County and South Seattle.  These areas had adolescent birth rates 1.5 to almost 3 times higher than the county average.
  • Since 2001, teen births have declined in East Region and in Seattle, but not in other regions of the county.

Poverty matters: Teens in high-poverty neighborhoods are over 6 times more likely to give birth than those in low-poverty neighborhoods.

  • After 1990, teen birth rates declined in high-, medium-, and low-poverty neighborhoods.  However, no changes related to neighborhood poverty have occurred in the past decade
  • Teens in high-poverty neighborhoods are still more than twice as likely to give birth as those in medium-poverty neighborhoods and 6.5 times as likely to give birth as those in low-poverty neighborhoods.
  • Nationally and internationally, variation in income inequality is related to differences in teen birth rates (data not shown).  

"Healthy Start [a home-visiting program to increase parenting skills, knowledge about child development, and family independence] actually helped me A LOT! … I was enrolled in the WIC program and they told me about that program, and that a lady would come over, you know, once a month and talk with you and tell you how they’re developing.  And, I was like “That sounds like a good idea … then I’ll know that I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing."
South Region teen mom living with her parents, her boyfriend, and their 2-year-old child