Pregnancy rates hit new lows for women 24 and younger, new highs for women 35 and older: study

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Pregnancy rates among women aged 24 or younger hit record lows in 2016, while rates for women aged 35 and older reached new highs, according to a new analysis published Thursday by Guttmacher, a sexual and reproductive health research organization.

Meanwhile, abortion rates have also declined for young people over the past 25 years, partially due to a decline in the number of people in that age group who became pregnant.

“Pregnancy rates for young people have reached their lowest recorded levels, and both birth and abortion rates among young people are continuing a longstanding decline over the past two-and-a-half decades,” said Guttmacher Senior Research Associate Isaac Maddow-Zimet.

“Conversely, pregnancy rates among older age groups have reached historic highs, with abortion rates remaining fairly constant.”

Guttmacher’s count of pregnancies includes ones that end in births, abortions, miscarriages and stillbirths.

In 2016, the latest year for which comprehensive data is available, there were 115 pregnancies per 1,000 women between the ages of 20 and 24, according to the report, the lowest levels recorded since the peak in 1990 of 202 pregnancies per 1,000 women in that age group.

Teen pregnancies have once again hit record lows, according to the analysis, with 15 pregnancies per 1,000 women aged 15-17, down from a peak of 75 per 1,000 women in that age group in 1989.

In 2016, there were 60 pregnancies per 1,000 women aged 18-19, from a peak of 175 women per 1,000 in that age group in 1991.

While state trends generally mirror national trends, pregnancy rates in 2016 were higher in young people in the South and Southwest, according to the analysis. For example, Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, and other states had higher than average pregnancy rates among teenagers.

Meanwhile, pregnancy rates for those aged 35-39 and 40 or older reached historic highs. In 2016, there were 73 pregnancies per 1,000 women between the ages of 35 and 39, and 18 per 1,000 women aged 40 or older. 

Pregnancy rates were higher for older age groups in the Northwest and Northeast states, including New York and New Jersey, according to the analysis.

The analysis also found that the abortion rate among young people is also declining, reaching 4 abortions per 1,000 women between the ages of 15 and 17 in 2017; 14 abortions per 1,000 women aged 18 and 19; and 24 abortions per 1,000 women between the ages of 20 and 24.

Among women over age 30, the abortion rate has stayed relatively stable since the late 1970s, at about 14 abortions per 100,000 women between the ages of 30 and 34; 9 abortions per 100,000 women between the ages of 35 and 39; and less than 5 abortions per 100,000 women aged 40 and older. 

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