June 29, 2012 — Since 1990, pregnancy rates among adolescents and women in their early 20s have steadily declined, while rates among women above age 30 have increased, according to the latest data from CDC's National Center for Health Statistics. Pregnancy rates among women ages 25-29 remained relatively stable, according to the report, which covered 1990 through 2008.
The researchers noted that many factors can affect pregnancy rates, including:
~ Changes in contraceptive use, including the proportion of women using contraceptives, the methods used, and how consistently and effectively they use them;
~ Changes in marriage, divorce and cohabitation, which affect intercourse patterns and the social and economic context of childbearing; and
~ Changes in sexual activity.
Influence of Contraceptive Use
Patterns shown in other federal data shed light on the factors that influenced the trends in the report, NCHS said. Notably, there has been "a steady, long-term decline" in the proportion of teens who have ever had sex, accompanied by a growing proportion who used contraception and the increased availability and use of more-effective methods (National Vital Statistics Reports, NCHS, 6/20).
Pregnancy trends among women in their early 20s also reflect contraceptive use patterns, the report's authors said. Younger women are using more-effective birth control methods, such as combining condoms with hormonal contraceptives, said lead author Stephanie Ventura.
Abortion rates also declined across all age groups. "If pregnancy rates are down, including both births and abortion rates, that would show more efforts to prevent unwanted pregnancies," Ventura said (Dobuzinskis, Reuters/Chicago Tribune, 6/19).
Debra Ness, publisher & president, National Partnership
Andrea Friedman, associate editor & director of reproductive health programs, National Partnership
Marya Torrez, associate editor & senior reproductive health policy counsel, National Partnership
Melissa Safford, associate editor & policy advocate for reproductive health, National Partnership
Perry Sacks, assistant editor & health program associate, National Partnership
Cindy Romero, assistant editor & communications assistant, National Partnership
Justyn Ware, editor
Amanda Wolfe, editor-in-chief
Heather Drost, Hanna Jaquith, Marcelle Maginnis, Ashley Marchand and Michelle Stuckey, staff writers
Tucker Ball, director of new media, National Partnership