News from the FDA/CDC

Abortion measures continue to fall



Three important national measures of abortion dropped by at least 19% from 2006 to 2015, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Reported abortions by known weeks of gestation

Surgical and medical abortions reported to the CDC dropped by 24%, going from almost 843,000 in 2006 to 638,000 in 2015, with declines occurring every year, Tara C. Jatlaoui, MD, and her associates at the CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Atlanta, reported in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report Surveillance Summaries.

Over that same time period, the abortion rate fell from 15.9 per 1,000 women aged 15-44 years to 11.8 per 1,000 – a decline of 26%. Abortion ratio – the number of abortions per 1,000 live births within a given population – declined by 19%, dropping from 233 abortions per 1,000 live births in 2006 to 188 abortions per 1,000 live births in 2015, the investigators reported. The findings were based on data from 49 areas that continuously reported over the study period (excludes California, Maryland, and New Hampshire but includes the District of Columbia and New York City).

Abortion rates were highest for women aged 20-29 years for the study period, and this age group accounted for the largest share among the 44 reporting areas that provided data by maternal age each year. Those under age 15 years had the largest drops by age in total number of abortions (40%) and abortion rate (58%) but had the highest, by far, abortion ratio for each year of the study (700 per 1,000 live births in that age group in 2015. The abortion ratio for 15- to 19-year-olds was 289 per 1,000 live births).

The percentage of abortions performed before 14 weeks’ gestation changed little, going from 91.5% in 2006 to 91% in 2015, but “a shift occurred toward earlier gestational ages,” they noted. The percentage of abortions performed before or at 8 weeks increased 3% and those done at 9-13 weeks dropped almost 9% among the 33 areas that reported gestational age every year. Abortions done after 13 weeks gestation represented 9% of all abortions during the study period, with an increase of 7% occurring from 2006 to 2015, Dr. Jatlaoui and her associates said.

Removing barriers such as cost, “insufficient provider reimbursement and training, inadequate client-centered counseling, lack of youth-friendly services, and low client awareness ... might help improve contraceptive use, potentially reducing the number of unintended pregnancies and the number of abortions performed in the United States,” the researchers wrote.

SOURCE: Jatlaoui TC et al. MMWR Surveill Summ. 2018 Nov 23(13):1-45.

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