U.S. Pregnancy Rates Continuing to Slide, Near Record Lows


The nation's pregnancy rates continue to fall, approaching new record lows.

New statistics, unveiled this morning by the National Center for Health Statistics, reveal that the rate of 102 pregnancies out of every 1,000 women is 12 percent below the 1990 peak of about 115 per 1,000. Only once in the past 20 years—1997—has it been lower.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says while rates for women aged 30 and younger fell between 1990 and 2009, with a notable decline among teenagers, they increased for those aged 30 and older.

Researchers say a variety of social and economic factors affect the nation's reproductive rates.

"It has been suggested that the declining economy, beginning in 2007, has likely played a role in the decreased rates for women under age 40," according to the study.

The report’s authors also said the historic drop is being driven by a long, downward trend of fewer teenagers having sex, and among those who do, a sharp increase in their use of contraceptives.

“It’s as if both sides in the debate over teen pregnancy were right,” said Johns Hopkins University sociologist Andrew Cherlin, noting that concerns over the AIDS epidemic may have played a role in the growing use of condoms among teenage boys. “AIDS has forced many school districts to talk about contraception, even if they didn’t want to.”

Other findings from the CDC report include:
-The overall abortion rate in 2009 was the lowest recorded between 1976 and 2009. The rate—18.5 abortions per 1,000 women—is one-third lower than in 1990, and reflects a nearly continuous decline since 1980.
-Pregnancy rates have declined about 10 percent each for married and unmarried women since 1990.
-The birth rate for married women is 72 percent higher than the rate for unmarried women.
-The abortion rate for unmarried women is nearly five times higher than the rate for married women.