13 States Where Teen Birth Rates Are Extraordinarily High

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), teen birth rates are declining across the U.S. However, some states still have more teen birth rates than average.

Per CDC data, most American states see less than 16.64 teen births per 1,000 females. But, as this list shows, several states have teen births in much higher numbers. 

1: Arkansas

Ozark Mountains, Arkansas.
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Arkansas has more teen births than any other state, according to the CDC. The Natural State has 26.5 teen births for every 1,000 females, almost double the national average. Arkansas doesn’t require sex education for students, nor does it provide easy access to contraceptives for teens. 

2: Mississippi

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Mississippi’s teen birth rate dropped significantly over the last two decades and is down 75% from 1991. However, the Magnolia State still lags behind most of the country, with a teenage birth rate of 25.6. 

3: Louisiana

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The teen birth rate in Louisiana is 24.5 per 1,000 females. Louisiana schools are not required to teach sex education classes, and many choose not to. 

4: Oklahoma

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Oklahoma has a teen birth rate of 24.1 births for every 1,000 females. Though Oklahoma saw a 12% drop from 2019 to 2021 alone, the rate in the Sooner State is still far above average. 

5: Alabama

Cheaha Mountain in Alabama.
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There’s been a massive decline in teen births in Alabama over the past decade. In 2005, the teen birth rate was close to 50 for every 1,000 females. Today, it’s 22.9. 

6: Kentucky

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Kentucky has 22.3 teen births for every 1,000 females. This is a big improvement compared to 2008, when Kentucky had a teen birth rate of 55.8. 

7: Tennessee

Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee.
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There are 21.5 teen births for every 1,000 females in Tennessee. One in five children lives in poverty in the Volunteer State, and poverty is often linked to higher rates of teenage pregnancy.  

8: West Virginia

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West Virginia has 20.9 teen births per 1,000 females. The majority of teen births happen in rural areas where there are high rates of generational poverty and social problems, including drug abuse and child neglect. 

9: Texas

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For the first time in 15 years, Texas saw a rise in teen births, with disproportionately high rates among Hispanic teens. The teen birth rate in Texas is 20.3 for every 1,000 females. 

10: New Mexico

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There are 19 teen births for every 1,000 females in New Mexico. The rate of teen pregnancy and births is much higher in certain counties, with Luna, New Mexico, experiencing an average of 65 teen births for every 1,000 girls. 

11: South Carolina

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South Carolina has 18.3 teen births for every 1,000 females. This is a slight decrease from 2015 when the teen birth rate was 22, but still well above average. 

12: Alaska

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From 2008 to 2014, Alaska saw a 35% decrease in teen births. While the number continues to decline, Alaska’s teen birth rate is still high at 17.5 per 1,000 girls. 

13: Missouri

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Most teen births in Missouri (75%) are among 18 and 19-year-olds. The teen birth rate in the Show-Me State is 17.1 for every 1,000 females. 

Why It Matters 

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The CDC tracks teen birth rates because of the negative impacts that can happen from carrying and having a child so young. Teenage mothers and fathers are more likely to experience poverty and have difficulty completing school. 

Risks to Children 

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Children born to teenage mothers are more likely to have a low birth weight, lower IQ, a greater risk of socio-economic problems, and are more likely to become teen parents themselves. 

Sharp Decline

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Teen birth has fallen 77% in the last thirty years. Much of that decline occurred after 2010, pointing to recent trends that make a huge difference.  

Unclear Why 

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What those trends are, exactly, remains unclear. The CDC notes that more teens are abstaining from sexual activity, but why they’re choosing to abstain is less obvious. 

Only Theories 

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Though research remains undecided, some note that changing social environments lead to fewer chances for intimate interactions between teens. To put it plainly, the internet may keep teenagers from having face-to-face interactions that lead to more intimate relationships. 

Not Equal

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The decline in teen births isn’t equal. When drilling down on the data, researchers see significant disparities. 

Racial Disparities

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Throughout the U.S., there are significantly higher teen birth rates for Black, Hispanic, and Indigenous girls. Researchers believe this may stem from a distrust of the healthcare system and a lack of access to reproductive healthcare. 

Possible Uptick 

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Researchers also note that the recent Dobbs decision by the Supreme Court could lead to a rise in teen births. The Dobbs decision gives states the ability to set their own laws on abortion. 

Small Percent, Big Impact

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Though only 6% of pregnancies are teen pregnancies, teens are significantly more likely to opt for an abortion than older women. They also tend to learn about their pregnancies later, which means laws limiting abortions to very early pregnancy often affect them the most. 

The Texas Tale

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Indeed, Texas paints a concerning picture when it comes to teen birth rates. The significant increase in teen births in the Lone Star State occurred directly after legislators implemented a six-week abortion ban. 

19 Reasons Women Choose Not To Have Children

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A growing number of women are choosing not to have children, and their reasons are myriad. From apprehension about the state of the world to a straightforward lack of desire, child-free by choice is becoming a common identifier, and these are some of the reasons why. 

19 Reasons Women Choose Not To Have Children

10 Worst States To Be Single

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It turns out that some states are better for finding a partner than others. So, if you live in one of these states, you might want to cross state borders to try to find love.

10 Worst States To Be Single

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