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CDC Report - More Unmarried Women in their 20s are having Babies

(Fewer U.S. Teens are Getting Pregnant)

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Updated April 28, 2008

CDC Report - More Unmarried Women in their 20s are having Babies
Photo: Geoff Manasse / Getty Images
According to a report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on April 14, 2008, fewer teens got pregnant in 2004 (as compared to 1990), but more unmarried women in their 20s became pregnant.

The authors of this report, Stephanie Ventura, Joyce Abma, William D. Mosher, and Stanley Henshaw indicate that nearly 38% of pregnancies in 2004 were to women under age 25, down from nearly 43% in 1990 (with the proportion of pregnancies among teens under age 20 dropping from 15% in 1990 to 12% in 2004). This CDC report also shows that the latest look at U.S. pregnancy trends seem to indicate that more women are keeping their babies -- even if they are not married, with the exception of black women.

Additionally, the report, "Estimated Pregnancy Rates by Outcome for the United States, 1990-2004," prepared by CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) further revealed that there were almost 6.4 million pregnancies in 2004 among women of all ages, down 6%, from 6.8 million, in 1990. The 2004 abortion numbers also declined with 1.22 million induced abortions in 2004, down from 1.61 million in 1990.

Stephanie Ventura, head of the Reproductive Statistics Branch at CDC/NCHS, explains that while this latest pregnancy report has found little change in births numbers between 1990 to 2004:

  • Abortions fell 24% over this time period.
Additionally, Ventura points out that:
  • Nearly half (45%) of the 6.4 million pregnancies in 2004 occurred among unmarried women, so the typical "unwed mother" is no longer a teen but, in fact, an older woman.

  • Pregnancy rates remained highest for women in their twenties suggesting that more women may be delaying childbearing.

  • Pregnancy totals in married women declined from 4.1 million in 1990 to 3.5 million in 2004.

Finally, the authors write, “The 2004 pregnancy rate for teenagers [in all population subgroups] was the lowest ever reported since this series of pregnancy estimates began in 1976.” This is in contrast to a 2007 NCHS report suggesting that the teenage birth rate rose 3% in 2006, thereby interrupting a 14-year period of steady declines from 1991 through 2005. Therefore, the CDC qualifies that their data (in this report) on teenage pregnancy is not as recent as the NCHS's 2006 report “because 2004 is the latest year for which we have national data on abortion rates. Thus, it is unknown at this time if the long-term decline in the teenage pregnancy rate also reversed in 2006.”

That being said, the CDC report indicated that pregnancy rates fell the most among sexually experienced teens and suggested that better use of contraception may be responsible. “There is some evidence that contraceptive use (for example, at first intercourse and at most recent intercourse) was increasing among teenagers through 2002. Data on contraceptive use show that there was increasing use of the oral contraceptive pill and long-acting injectable contraceptives among teenagers.”

Other Key Findings:

  • Three out of four pregnancies among married women (75%) ended in a live birth in 2004, while 19% ended in fetal loss, and 6% ended in abortion.

  • For unmarried women, slightly over half of pregnancies (51%) ended in live birth, an increase from 43% in 1990. 35% of these pregnancies ended in abortion and 13% ended in fetal loss.

  • More than a third (37%) of pregnancies for black women ended in abortion as compared to 19% for Hispanic women, and 12% for non-Hispanic white women.

  • More than two-thirds of pregnancies for non-Hispanic white (69%) and Hispanic women (67%) and half of pregnancies to non-Hispanic black women ended in live birth.

  • At 2004 pregnancy rates, the average U.S. woman is expected to have 3.2 pregnancies in her lifetime. Black and Hispanic women are expected to have 4.2 pregnancies each, compared with 2.7 for non-Hispanic white women.

Source:

Ventura, S., Abma, J., Mosher, W.D., & Henshaw, S. (April 14, 2008). Estimated Pregnancy Rates by Outcome for the United States, 1990–2004. National Vital Statistic Reports, 56(15), 1-26. Accessed from the CDC National Center for Health Statistics Website.

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