Teenage mothers

Teenage mothers are those who gave birth when they were aged under 20. This section looks at the onset of labour and method of birth, smoking status, and timing and number of antenatal care visits for teenage mothers.

The figure shows different charts displaying key statistics on teenage mothers (aged under 20) who gave birth in Australia in 2019. Three pie charts show proportions of teenage mothers by onset of labour, method of birth and smoking status. A line graph shows the number of teenage mothers who gave birth over the period of 2009 to 2019. Two segmented bar charts show proportions of teenage mothers by duration of pregnancy at first antenatal visit and the number of antenatal visits.  

The number of teenage mothers in Australia has fallen steadily over time, from 11,767 (4.0%) in 2009 to 5,678 (1.9%) in 2019.

Many teenage mothers access antenatal care in the first trimester (64%) and have more than 5 antenatal visits (91%). In particular, the rate of antenatal visits in the first trimester has been rising over time. 

Teenage mothers have high smoking rates, with 32% smoking during pregnancy in 2019, however this rate has fallen over time (from 37% in 2009). 

Although teenage mothers are more likely to have spontaneous onset of labour, this rate has fallen over time (from 70% in 2009 to 55% in 2019) with a corresponding increase in induced labour onset (from 25% in 2009 to 38% in 2019). Because spontaneous and induced labour are most commonly associated with vaginal delivery, this means that the rate of vaginal births and caesarean sections has remained largely stable.

It is important to note that teenage mothers experience significant differences in relation to maternal characteristics, health behaviours and outcomes—and perinatal outcomes—when compared to the overall population of Australian mothers and babies. These differences can be explored when viewing ‘maternal age’ at the chapter or topic level throughout this report.