Unintended pregnancy rate falls to 30-year low, report shows

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2016/03/03/unintended-pregnancy-rate-falls-to-30-year-low-report-shows/

BOSTON Unintended pregnancies in the U.S. fell to the lowest proportion in 30 years across the board, according to an analysis published Thursday by the New England Journal of Medicine.

The study showed that unintended pregnancies fell to 45 percent of all pregnancies in 2011, down from 51 percent in 2008. Conducted by Lawrence B. Finer and Mia R. Zolna at the Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit research and advocacy organization in New York, the study showed that the rate among women and girls aged 15 to 44 dropped to 45 in 1,000, the lowest in three decades.

“After a long period of minimal change, the unintended pregnancy rate has declined to the lowest rate observed in the United States since we first began tracking these numbers in 1981, and by 18 percent in just three years,” Finer said Wednesday in a statement from the institute, which favors abortion rights.

The study also showed that unintended pregnancies ending in abortion rose to 42 percent in 2011 from 40 percent in 2008. Among 15- to 44-year-olds, the number who give birth dropped to 22 per 1,000 from 27 in 2008.

Researchers suggested the lower rate of unintended pregnancies could be linked to more successful use of “long-acting reversible contraceptive” methods, such as birth control implants and intrauterine devices. Recent Guttmacher Institute research found that those methods, especially the latter, increased between 2007 and 2012 across most demographic groups.

“When women have access to a broad method mix that includes highly effective methods, they can choose the method that is best suited for them,” Finer said.

Despite the lower rate, nearly half of pregnancies are unintended, amounting to 2.8 million in 2011, the researchers showed. A disproportionate number occurred among poor and minority women compared with white women.

“We have made progress in a short period of time, but we still have a long way to go to ensure that all women—regardless of socioeconomic status—are able to achieve their childbearing goals,” Finer said. The research showed that unintended pregnancies occurred at a rate five times higher among poor women compared with those with higher incomes. And women of color were roughly twice as likely to experience an unintended pregnancy as white women.

The authors analyzed data from several sources, including U.S. government information collected by the National Survey of Family Growth and Guttmacher’s own surveys of women. In an earlier study, the organization reported a nearly 13 percent drop in the number of abortions in 2011 compared with 2008.

Contact Kara Bettis at [email protected] or on Twitter @karabettis.