Even though shows like “16 and Pregnant” and “Teen Mom” might give the impression pregnancies amongst young women and teens are on the rise, a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows otherwise. Pregnancy rates for all teens ages 15-19 are in the lowest levels since 1976. Among Hispanic teenagers, the pregnancy rate has declined 33 percent.
The National Center for Health Statistics study shows pregnancies in women in their 20s have declined 18 percent from 1990 to 2008 and their abortion rate dropped by 32 percent.
Women in their 20s are “postponing pregnancy,” said Stephanie Ventura, author of the study released on Wednesday.
“These declines tell a large story that is really important to Latinas because it shows that they have more access to contraception and healthcare. But, there is still a long way to go,” said Kimberly Inez McGuire a policy analyst at the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health.
A reason for the decrease in pregnancies among younger women, says Ventura, is the more effective use of birth control methods such as condoms and contraceptive patches that release hormones.
“If the pregnancy rates are down, including both births and abortion rates, that would show more efforts to prevent unwanted pregnancies,” said Ventura.
Pregnancy rates for women in their early 20s have declined to the lowest level in more than three decades. The report says in 2008, the pregnancy rate for the 20 to 24 age group was 163 pregnancies per 1,000 women. But in 1990 the pregnancy rate was 199 pregnancies per 1,000 women.
The abortion rate among women in their early 20s also declined from 57 abortions per 1,000 women compared to 38 abortions per 1,000 in 1990.
“It’s not just the teens. Abortion rates are down across the board,” said Ventura.
“The steady declines in teen pregnancy represent one of the nation’s great success stories of the past two decades and the thanks go to teens themselves,” said Sarah Brown, CEO of Latino Initiative of The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy (The NC), in a press release.
While pregnancy rates for women 25-29 have changed very little, older women getting pregnant in their late 30s and early 40s has increased 65 percent since 1990.
“As a general matter women and men are taking more years to complete their education, getting married at an older age, and not feeling any real time constraints about when to start having children. These factors and others have resulted in women having children at a later age,” said Ann Marie Benitez the Senior Manager of The NC.