Spotlight Story: New Teen Pregnancy Data Released

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This item appeared as our featured Spotlight Story in November 2012.  

North Carolina’s teen pregnancy rate fell 12% in 2011! The change represents the single biggest year-to-year drop ever, and reduces teen pregnancy to the lowest levels in the state’s history.

The 2011 pregnancy rate for North Carolina girls ages 15-19 was 43.8 out of every 1,000 15-19 year old girls. In other words, fewer than 5% of 15-19 year old girls in the state got pregnant last year.

The new data includes several positive indicators for North Carolina youth:

  • Racial and ethnic disparities are narrowing! Pregnancies fell among girls of all racial and ethnic backgrounds, helping to minimize some historical disparities. Pregnancies to white, black, and Hispanic teens dropped 11%, 12% and 13%, respectively.
  • Fewer pregnancies means fewer births and abortions! Reducing the teen pregnancy rate also reduced all potential outcomes of a teen pregnancy. The teen birth rate dropped by 9% and the teen abortion rate dropped by 21%.
  • Fewer teens are getting pregnant again! Only 26% of teen pregnancies happened to a girl who has been pregnant before, the lowest proportion of repeat pregnancies in state history. 

Tools on our website include:

Statewide Data – state level data plus comparisons of all counties

County Map – data and resources for each county

Archived State Statistics – historical data for each county and the state


What It Means

Stepping back to look at the bigger picture, the drop constitutes a historical shift for North Carolina youth and families. The teen pregnancy rate is 58% lower than it was when it peaked in 1990. (In 1990, more than 10% of the state’s 15-19 year old girls got pregnant in a single year!)

But this isn’t just about numbers. Giving teens the tools they need to prevent pregnancy supports health and responsibility. In addition, fewer pregnancies mean more youth can attain an education, become economically self-sufficient, and save childbearing for when they are better prepared.

So, why have the rates dropped?

  • North Carolina teens are benefiting from national trends. Younger teens are waiting a little longer to become sexually active, and sexually active teens are choosing better contraceptive options. As these behaviors increase, youth are normalizing personal responsibility now and adopting better habits for the future.
  • North Carolina policies are supporting health and responsibility. Policies like the Healthy Youth Act and Minor’s Consent for Health Services give youth the access they need to information and health care.
  • Leaders are targeting investments to high-need areas. Both the North Carolina General Assembly and Congress have targeted funds to help place intensive programs in the highest need areas – and it’s working!

What You Can Do

Explore our County Map to see what happened in your county. The map can show you teen pregnancy rates, how your county ranks, and whether your rate rose or fell between 2010 and 2011.

Use this data to bolster your efforts. We encourage you to:

  • Contact your newspaper or write a letter to the editor.
  • Share your county’s data with policymakers and key stakeholders in your community
  • Host an opportunity to celebrate your progress and examine areas for change
  • Learn more about our state goal to reduce teen pregnancy 30% by 2020

Have questions about the new data? Contact Elizabeth Finley, Director of Strategic Communications, or Melinda DeJongh, Resource and Special Projects Manager, at (919) 226-1880. 


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