Erie Vital Signs

Health Behaviors and Disease Prevention: Births to Mothers Under 18

Recent Performance

This trend is better or improving.

Teen birth rates are an important public health measure. Both teen mothers and their babies face increased risks to their health and overall well-being.

Since 2007, the percentage of Erie County live births that were to mothers under the age of 18 has dropped from 5.0% in 2007 to 2.8% in 2012. The 2.8% in 2012 marked a historic low for the county. Particularly striking is the decline observed in Blacks - from 14.6% in 2007 to 6.2% in 2012. While these declines signify an overall reduction in teen births, there is still room for improvement as the local percentages lag slightly behind the figures for Pennsylvania.

Note: Much of the data for the Health Indicators come from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) Survey. Each metro area decides whether or not to participate each year, so these indicators often do not have data for every year for every metro area. As a result, the graphs show markers (dots, diamonds, etc.) for the individual years rather than lines. If there are data for consecutive years, the markers will be joined with a line on the graphs.

The Basics

This indicator reports the percentage of live births to mothers under the age of 18.

Why is this important?

According to the Centers for Disease Control, teen pregnancy and childbearing bring substantial social and economic costs through immediate and long-term impacts on teen parents and their children.

  • In 2011, teen pregnancy and childbirth accounted for at least $9.4 billion in costs to U.S. taxpayers for increased health care and foster care, increased incarceration rates among children of teen parents, and lost tax revenue because of lower educational attainment and income among teen mothers.
  • Pregnancy and birth are significant contributors to high school dropout rates among girls. Only about 50% of teen mothers receive a high school diploma by 22 years of age, versus approximately 90% of women who had not given birth during adolescence.
  • The children of teenage mothers are more likely to have lower school achievement and drop out of high school, have more health problems, be incarcerated at some time during adolescence, give birth as a teenager, and face unemployment as a young adult.

These effects remain for the teen mother and her child even after adjusting for those factors that increased the teenager’s risk for pregnancy, such as growing up in poverty, having parents with low levels of education, growing up in a single-parent family, and having poor performance in school.

The Details

“The Basics” tells the story.

The Nitty-Gritty Details

  • Erie County Department of Health – Maternal, Infant & Child Health," Erie County Department of Health":
  • Erie County Department of Health - Community Health Profiles, Erie County Department of Health
  • Pennsylvania Department of Health - Epidemiologic Query and Mapping System, EpiQMS
  • Pennsylvania Department of Health, Birth Statistics


This EVS indicator reports subcategories based on race/ethnicity with the following breakdowns: All races, White, Black, and Hispanic (of any race).

Peer Areas

The data are not available for the 13 standard peer MSAs, but they are available for Erie County, the state of Pennsylvania, and 10 PA counties.


There are annual updates of this EVS indicator.


Other Related Data

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