14. Teenage births

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Note break in series from 2011 for Birthplace (mother) and Remoteness, for more details seethe data source tables for this indicator.

Why are teenage birth rates important?

Teenage motherhood poses significant long-term risks for both mother and child, including poorer health, educational and economic outcomes. Babies born to teenage mothers have an increased risk of pre-term birth, low birthweight and associated complications (Gupta et al. 2008). Children born to teenage mothers may also be more likely to have poorer emotional, cognitive and behavioural outcomes and to be born into and continue to live in disadvantaged socioeconomic situations (Paranjothy et al. 2009; Chittleborough et al. 2011).

A number of factors have been associated with teenage birth, with the most widely cited being a family history of teenage pregnancy, socioeconomic disadvantage, one-parent family structure and family breakdown (Gaudie et al. 2010). While not all teenage births result in negative outcomes for mother and child, the factors that often contribute to teenage birth mean that many young mothers do not receive the support they need during pregnancy and after the birth.

Do teenage birth rates vary across population groups?

In 2015, teenage mothers gave births to over 8,000 live-born babies, a rate of about 11 live births per 1,000 females aged 15-19. The teenage birth rate for Indigenous women was about 5.8 times the rate for non-Indigenous teenage women (52 per 1,000 females, compared to 9 per 1,000 females). The teenage birth rate for overseas-born teenage women was lower (8 per 1,000 females) than among Australian-born teenage mothers (12 per 1,000 females).

The teenage birth rate was 9 times as high among teenage women from the lowest socioeconomic areas (over 24 per 1,000 females), as that for teenage women from the highest socioeconomic areas (nearly 3 per 1,000 females). Similarly, those living in Remote and very remote areas (47 per 1,000 females) were 5.9 times more likely to have a teenage birth than mothers born in Major cities (8 per 1,000 females).

Has there been a change over time?

The teenage birth rate has declined slightly in the 10 years to 2015 from around 18 per 1,000 females in 2006 to about 11 per 1,000 in 2015. The Indigenous teenage birth rate has also declined during this period from 70 to 52 per 1,000 females.

Between 2013 and 2015, the rate for live births among overseas-born teenage women decreased from 10 per 1,000 to about 8 per 1,000 females. Over the same period, the rate among teenage women living in the lowest socioeconomic areas decreased by almost 5 per 1,000 females from 29 per 1,000 females. The teenage birth rate for teenage women living in Remote and very remote areas also decreased from 53 per 1,000 females in 2013 to 47 per 1,000 females in 2015..


  • Chittleborough CR, Lawlor DA & Lynch JW 2011. Young maternal age and poor child development: predictive validity from a birth cohort. Pediatrics 127(6):e1436–e44.
  • Gaudie J, Mitrou F, Lawrence D, Stanley F, Silburn S & Zubrick S 2010. Antecedents of teenage pregnancy from a 14-year follow-up study using data linkage. BMC Public Health 10(1):63.
  • Gupta N, Kiran U & Bhal K 2008. Teenage pregnancies: obstetric characteristics and outcome. European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology 137(2):165–71.
  • Paranjothy S, Broughton H, Adappa R, Fone D 2009. Teenage pregnancy: who suffers? Archives of Diseases in Childhood 94:239–245.