Nationwide, teen pregnancy rates have declined by more than 40 percent during the last two decades, rising briefly in 2006 and 2007 before dropping to historic lows in 2011. Still, the United States maintains the highest rate of teenage pregnancy and childbirth among comparable industrialized countries. Teen births in the U.S. garner significant attention because they are correlated with a range of poor outcomes for both young mothers and children – and because significant risk differences persist across groups. Youth placed in foster care and involved with child protective services have heightened rates of teen pregnancy and births, yet there have been limited data with which to characterize these dynamics or track trends over time.
This research study linked Child Protective Services (CPS) and birth records from California, generating new knowledge concerning teen births among youth currently and formerly involved with the state’s child protection system. This database of integrated birth and CPS records is unique in that it not only offers a “population-level” examination of past CPS involvement among teen mothers, but it also provides an opportunity to prospectively examine health and safety outcomes in the next generation, both for the state as a whole and for Los Angeles County. Through the linkage of these two data sources, we now have a more complete understanding of birth and early-parenting dynamics among a very vulnerable subset of young parents.