Teen birth rates have fallen in recent years yet one fifth of all teenage mothers in the US go on to have a second or third child before they turn 20, a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows.
The research shows that 1 in 5 babies born to a teen mother is a repeat birth, leading to decreased educational opportunities for the mothers and health concerns for their babies.
"Teen pregnancy and childbearing can carry high health, emotional, social, and financial costs for both teen mothers and their children," the CDC said in a statement.
"Teen mothers want to do their best for their own health and that of their child, but some can become overwhelmed by life as a parent. Having more than one child as a teen can limit the teen mother’s ability to finish her education or get a job. Infants born from a repeat teen birth are often born too small or too soon, which can lead to more health problems for the baby."
Teen pregnancy rates have declined to a record low but more than 367,000 teens aged 15–19 gave birth in 2010.
Of those mothers who went on to have another pregnancy while still in their teens, 85 percent had a second child, more than 12 percent of teens had a third and 1.7 percent were for baby number four, five or six.
Researchers also looked at whether or not the women were trying to prevent subsequent pregnancies and found that 91 percent of them were using some form of contraception.
However, only 22 percent used contraceptives considered to be "most effective" such as a birth control implant or an intrauterine device (IUD). About half used moderately effective methods such as the birth control pill, a patch or diaphragm.