Adolescent pregnancy is a major health problem in the United States. In 1975, there were approximately 900,000 pregnancies to women younger than 20 years of age; approximately 600,000 of these pregnancies resulted in live-births and 300,000 in abortions. Thus, one of five births and one of three abortions were to adolescents younger than 20 years old.
Adolescent childbearing remained essentially unchanged from the early 1900s to the end of World War II. In immediate post-World War II society, adolescent marriages and childbearing were common. The birthrate to women 15 to 19 years of age was 81.6 per 1,000 women in 1950; 96.3 per 1,000 women in 1957; and 63.3 per 1,000 women in 1970. The illegitimacy rate (number of illegitimate births per 1,000 unmarried women) is more reflective of current trends in adolescent childbearing than birthrates. The illegitimacy rate for women 15 to 19 years of age rose from 12.6