Institute for Public Health
MSC 09 5065
University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, NM 87131-0001

Family Practice Center 137

Karen Armitage, MD

Leigh Caswell, MPH
Operations Coordinator

Telephone: (505) 272-5377
Fax: (505) 272-3764

Institute for Public Health

Teen Pregnancy


Teen Pregnancy

New Mexico has ranked one of the worst states in terms of teen pregnancy rate for over a decade. In 2003, the birth rate for teens ages 15 to 17 was 35.6 per 1,000 compared to the U.S. rate of 22.4 per 1,000. Since 1990, pregnancy rates have nationally declined for teens aged 15-17. “Between 1991 and 2003, New Mexico’s birth rate for teens ages 15 to 17 declined 28% compared to an almost 42% decline nationally. The teen birth rates for White Non-Hispanics, African-American and Native American teens in New Mexico dropped by nearly 40% from 1990 to 2002. But in the same time period, Hispanic teen birth rates decreased only 12%.”


Teen pregnancy has enormous social costs for children and families, but there is also a substantial price for the state. Public assistance to teen families in New Mexico costs taxpayers nearly $300 million annually - approximately $6,176 per year per teenage mother. Compared to their peers who are not mothers, teenage mothers are less likely to get or stay married, less likely to complete high school or college, and more likely to require public assistance and live in poverty.

There are also several evidence-based factors associated with preventing teen pregnancy. Adolescents who report that their parents are warm, caring, supportive and aware of their adolescent’s activities are far more likely to delay sexual intercourse than their peers. Both male and female youth who report feeling connected to their school are at decreased risk for having sex, having unprotected sex, and being involved in a pregnancy. Health care delivery systems that provide one-to-one clinician-patient education and comprehensive school-based services also effectively reduce teenage pregnancy rates. Best practices for teen pregnancy prevention include: male involvement; service learning; positive youth development; evidence-based curriculum; parental involvement; and provision of continuum of education and services from abstinence through contraception.

Health Sciences Center & Teen Pregnancy

The Nurse Midwifery Division, HSC established Young Mothers Group, providing prenatal care to adolescents in groups.

College of Nursing provides training/educational faculty grants on teen pregnancy prevention

Lean More: IPH Issue Brief - Teenage Births

Report: Rising Number of Teen Moms to Strain Services (from The Santa Fe New Mexican, August 20, 2006)