THURSDAY, Dec. 5, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- Pregnancy rates
continue to decline in the United States, a federal report released
The rate reached a 12-year low in 2009, when there were about
102 pregnancies for every 1,000 women aged 15 to 44, according to
the latest statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and
That rate is 12 percent below the 1990 rate of about 116
pregnancies per 1,000 women. Only the 1997 rate of 102 has been
lower during the past 30 years, according to the report.
Experts said two factors are driving the downward trend:
improved access to birth control and decisions by women to put off
childbearing until later in life.
Those trends have caused the average age of pregnancy to shift
Pregnancy rates for teenagers also have reached historic lows
that extend across all racial and ethnic groups. Between 1990 and
2009, the pregnancy rate fell 51 percent for white and black
teenagers, and 40 percent for Hispanic teenagers.
The teen birth rate dropped 39 percent between 1991 and 2009,
and the teen abortion rate decreased by half during the same
Overall, pregnancy rates have continued to decline for women
younger than 30.
"The amount of knowledge that young women have about their birth control options is very different compared to a few decades ago," said Dr. Margaret Appleton, director of the division of obstetrics and gynecology at the Scott & White Clinic in College Station, Texas. "Birth control is more readily available to women, and they are more knowledgeable about it."
At the same time, pregnancy rates have steadily increased for
women aged 30 to 44. The rate increased 16 percent between 1990 and
2009 for women aged 30 to 34, for example, and 35 percent for women
aged 35 to 39.
Dr. Jeanne Conry, president of the American College of
Obstetrics and Gynecology, said the report's findings are
consistent with the trend of women having children later in life
that has emerged in developed countries.
"This may reflect the opportunities for women to establish educational and career objectives," Conry said.
In addition to women having children later in life, they also
are choosing to have fewer kids, Appleton said, which is driving
down pregnancy rates.
"More women in the professional workforce are delaying childbearing, and then when they get around to it, they choose to have fewer kids," she said. "I think you see women choosing to have one or two children compared with four or five, which was more common in the 1970s."
Women who hold off on pregnancy have an increased risk of
miscarriage and genetic abnormalities in their children, a risk
that increases as they grow older, Appleton said. They also have an
increased risk of infertility.
A mother in good health, however, likely will remain healthy and
produce a healthy baby no matter what her age, she said.
"If the mom is healthy, [age] is not likely to affect the child's health," Appleton said.
Other findings from the CDC report include:
Go to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for
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