Pregnancy rates for women younger than 30 fell over an 18-year period that began in 1990, says a new federal report released Wednesday.
The National Center for Health Statistics's report shows that 2008, the most recent year for which complete data was available, saw the third-highest number of live births in the U.S. since 1976: 4,248,000.
That's despite the fact that all age groups for women younger than 30 saw declines in pregnancy rates. Here are the pregnancy stats from 2000:
– Two girls under 15 (per 1,000 U.S. women)
– About 52 girls between 15 and 17
– About 136 women between 18 and 19
– About 181 women between 20 and 24
– About 169 women between 25 and 29
Compare that to numbers from 2008 (again per 1,000 U.S. women):
– One girl under the age of 15
– About 40 girls between 15 and 17
– About 114 women between 18 and 19
– 163 women between 20 and 24
– About 168 women between 25 and 29
The National Institute of Health (NIH) reports that between 1990 and 2008, the teen pregnancy rate fell 40 percent; the drop was almost continuous save for a brief upward tick between 2005 and 2006.
In 2009, South L.A. was seeing about 74 births to teens between 15 and 19 for every 1,000 live births, by far the highest rate of any of the county's service planning areas and well above the county and national average.
While those under 30 saw declines over that 18-year period, women in their 30s and 40s were having more kids. Pregnancy rates per 1,000 U.S. women rose for women between 30 and 34 (from about 131 to about 141), women between 35 and 39 (from nearly 68 to about 79) and the 40-to-44 age group (from about 15 to 19).
Pediatrician John Santelli tells NIH these trends can be attributed to a declining fertility rate, better use of contraception and the delaying of pregnancy due to, say, the pursuit of a career.
The report also shows that abortion rates are down "across the board," according to Stephanie Ventura, one of the report's authors.
For example, girls between 15 and 19 saw a 56 percent reduction in abortions between 1990 and 2008. In the same period of time, women in the early 20s saw their abortion rate drop 32 percent. Women in their late 20s went from about 34 abortions per 1,000 women to nearly 29.
Also notable, particularly for the southside, is the ethnic gap in teen pregnancy rates: In 2008, the rates for black and Latino teenagers between 18 and 19 were two to three times higher than the rate for white teens. That's significant, as black and Latino folks make up nearly 95 percent of South Los Angeles' population.
Health experts have told OnCentral the residents of South L.A. have an "unmet need" for contraception and "face barriers" to obtaining it that include expenses and lack of transportation to the clinics that provide it.
Photo by Jess Hamilton via Flickr Creative Commons.