Teen Pregnancies, Abortions Drop From 1990 to 2004: CDC

MONDAY, April 14 (HealthDay News) -- Teen pregnancy rates in the United States declined from 1990 to 2004, as did the number of abortions, while the number of pregnancies among unmarried women increased slightly during that period.

Those findings are contained in a report -- "Estimated Pregnancy Rates by Outcome for the United States, 1990-2004" -- released Monday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics.

The report said almost 38 percent of pregnancies in 2004 were to women under age 25, down from almost 43 percent in 1990. And the proportion of pregnancies among teens under age 20 dropped from 15 percent in 1990 to 12 percent in 2004.

The report shows there were almost 6.4 million pregnancies in 2004 among women of all ages, about 6 percent fewer than the almost 6.8 million pregnancies in 1990. The 2004 total included 4.11 million live births, 1.22 million induced abortions, and 1.06 million fetal losses (such as stillbirths and miscarriages). In 1990, there were 4.16 million live births, 1.61 million induced abortions and 1.02 million fetal losses.

"This latest pregnancy outcome report finds that there was little change in births and fetal loss numbers between 1990 and 2004. However, abortions fell 24 percent over this time period," said Stephanie Ventura, head of the Reproductive Statistics Branch at the National Center for Health Statistics.

But the encouraging news about teen pregnancy rates was offset by a CDC report with 2006 statistics released in December that said for the first time in 14 years, the number of teens having babies in the United States rose.

That news was accompanied by additional data showing record high rates in 2006 for unmarried women having babies as well as for Caesarean deliveries.

The findings were contained in preliminary birth statistics compiled by the CDC and were based on 99 percent of all births in 2006.

"The finding on teen pregnancy was a surprise," Ventura told HealthDay. "Even though the rate of decline had slowed down, we didn't expect an increase."

She added that it was "too soon to say if the increased birth rate among teens is a trend. It could be just a one-year blip, or the start of a turning point."

The new report released Monday also included these findings:

  • Almost half (45 percent) of the 6.4 million pregnancies in 2004 occurred among unmarried women. Pregnancy totals for unmarried women increased from more than 2.7 million in 1990 to more than 2.8 million in 2004.
  • Pregnancy totals among married women declined from 4.1 million in 1990 to 3.5 million in 2004.
  • The average American woman is expected to have 3.2 pregnancies in her lifetime at current pregnancy rates; black and Hispanic women are expected to have 4.2 pregnancies each, compared with 2.7 for non-Hispanic white women.
  • Seventy-five percent of pregnancies among married women culminated in a live birth in 2004, while 19 percent ended in fetal loss, and 6 percent ended in abortion. For unmarried women, slightly more than half of pregnancies (51 percent) ended in live birth, an increase from 43 percent in 1990. Thirty-five percent of these pregnancies ended in abortion and 13 percent ended in fetal loss.
  • More than two-thirds of pregnancies for non-Hispanic white women (67 percent) and Hispanic women (69 percent) and half of pregnancies to non-Hispanic black women ended in live birth.
  • More than one-third (37 percent) of pregnancies for black women ended in abortion, compared with 12 percent for non-Hispanic white women and 19 percent for Hispanic women.

More information

To see the full report, visit the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics.

SOURCE: April 14, 2008, news release, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta

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