South Carolina Teen Birth Rate Declines, But Disparities Remain

Although South Carolina’s national teen birth ranking hasn’t changed, the state saw an 11 percent decrease in the teen (ages 15-19; all references to teens are for the 15-19 age range) birth rate between 2019 and 2020. South Carolina still holds the 11th highest teen birth rate in the nation. In observation of May, National Adolescent Health Month, Fact Forward is releasing the latest South Carolina teen birth and STI data.

Since peaking in 1991, South Carolina’s teen birth rate has fallen 73 percent.

In 2020, 3,069 teens gave birth in South Carolina. This is 356 fewer than the previous year. Eleven counties saw an increase in the teen birth rate from 2019 to 2020 compared to 21 counties last year. Thirty-five counties saw a decrease in the teen birth rate from 2019 to 2020. The state continues to see positive trends in the overall teen birth rate, but disparities among demographics cannot be ignored. 

Hispanic teens were the only teen demographic to experience an increase from 2019-2020.

White teens experienced a 20 percent decrease in teen births from 2019-2020. Black teens experience a seven percent decrease from 2019-2020. Black teen birth rates are nearly double the rate of white teens. Hispanic teens experienced a four percent increase from 2019-2020. Since 2002, Hispanic teens have had the highest teen birth rates, with rates consistently above the state rate and rates of white and Black teens.

Both societal and health system factors contribute to the lack of access and care Black and Hispanic teens receive regarding their reproductive health. In a project focused on Richland and Orangeburg Counties, Fact Forward is working with high schools, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, local health departments (Title X clinics) and/or federally qualified health centers, community-based organizations, local businesses, parents and other youth-supporting adults to increase access and linkages to sexual health services for Black and Hispanic ages 15-21.

STIs remain a challenge for South Carolina’s teens.

South Carolina chlamydia and gonorrhea rates among teens are higher than the national rates, based on the 2019 national data. South Carolina ranks 4th in the nation for chlamydia for the second year in a row. The state ranks 3rd for gonorrhea, trending in the wrong direction compared to the previous year’s ranking of 4th. The prevalence of teens living with a diagnosed HIV infection decreased by 11 percent from 2019-2020. In order to address these rankings, young people need continued exposure to comprehensive and inclusive reproductive health education.

Statement from the CEO Beth De Santis:

“Each year we are encouraged by the overall decline in our state’s teen birth rate. A 73 percent decrease since 1991 has only been possible through the commitment of South Carolina communities and public health professionals. To continue moving forward, we must address the health and structural inequities that create barriers in access to reproductive health services and education.

Fact Forward is devoted to this work and continues to actively engage in communities that experience systematic inequities. Increasing access to quality reproductive health services and education for all is at the forefront of what we do, but we cannot do it alone.

We will always partner with dedicated organizations, professionals and trusted adults who are willing to do the hard work that ensures safe and healthy futures for adolescents. It is our role to support these individuals and their work, making sure the South Carolina youth receive effective and inclusive reproductive health education as well as access to reproductive health services.”


For a complete summary of South Carolina’s teen birth and STI ranking, view our 2020 South Carolina Teen Birth Trends one-pager and our 2020 South Carolina Teen STI/STD Rates one-pager. These documents breakdown the county rankings for STI and teen birth rates. Each year Fact Forward provides these as a resource for South Carolina educators, clinicians and trusted adults.