June 20, 2012 — The pregnancy rate for U.S. women in their early twenties declined by nearly 18% between 1990 and 2008, while the abortion rate for the age group decreased by 32%, according to a report released on Wednesday by the National Center for Health Statistics at CDC, Reuters/Chicago Tribune reports. The study authors attributed the declines to women's use of more effective contraceptive methods and the fact that more women in the age group are postponing pregnancy.
The report found that the pregnancy rate for women ages 20 through 24 was 163 pregnancies per 1,000 women in 2008, compared with 198.5 per 1,000 in 1990. Pregnancy rates for women ages 25 through 29 decreased by about 6% during the same time period. NCHS found that the abortion rate among women in their early 20s decreased from 56.7 abortions per 1,000 women in 1990 to 38.4 per 1,000 in 2008. The abortion rate among women in their late 20s decreased from 33.9 per 1,000 in 1990 to 28.6 per 1,000 in 2008.
Pregnancies Among Other Age Groups
Consistent with previous research, the report found that more women are becoming pregnant in their 30s and 40s than in the past. The pregnancy rate among women ages 40 to 44 increased by 65% between 1990 and 2008, according to the report (Dobuzinskis, Reuters/Chicago Tribune, 6/20).
NCHS also reported that the teen pregnancy rate declined among all racial and ethnic groups, reaching 69.8 pregnancies per 1,000 teens in 2008 -- the lowest rate since 1976 (Wetzstein, Washington Times, 6/20).
Reasons for Trends
Stephanie Ventura, lead author of the report, said more women in their twenties are "postponing pregnancy," adding that younger women are using more-effective birth control methods, such as combined use of condoms and hormonal contraceptives.
"If the pregnancy rates are down, including both births and abortion rates, that would show more efforts to prevent unwanted pregnancies," Ventura said (Reuters/Chicago Tribune, 6/19).
Overall, 65% of all pregnancies in 2008 resulted in live births, 18% ended in abortion and 17% ended in miscarriages. In 1990, about 61% of pregnancies resulted in live births, compared with 24% that ended in abortion and 15% that ended in miscarriages. Ventura said the finding that more pregnancies end in miscarriages could be because women are finding out that they are pregnant sooner, which would allow for more early miscarriages to be identified (Washington Times, 6/20).
Debra Ness, publisher & president, National Partnership
Andrea Friedman, associate editor & director of reproductive health programs, 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