The high numbers of unintended pregnancies in the United States are showing a decline for the first time in about three decades. Experts attribute this downtrend to the widespread availability of information and the increase in use of IUD's among women.
A report published in The New England Journal of Medicine, based on research at the Guttmacher Institute in New York City, shows that "less than half (45 [percent]) of pregnancies were unintended in 2011, as compared with 51 [percent] in 2008. The rate of unintended pregnancy among women and girls 15 to 44 years of age declined by 18 [percent], from 54 per 1,000 in 2008 to 45 per 1,000 in 2011."
These figures are "the lowest level we've seen in at least 30 years," said Mia Zolna, a research associate at the Guttmacher Institute, adding that "poor women have unintended pregnancy rates that are about five times higher than that of higher-income women."
According to a recent study, "Better birth control counseling reduces unintended pregnancies among young women."
"It's important that women also learn about methods that give a higher level of protection against pregnancy when they seek contraceptive care. Women consider health care providers a highly-trusted source of information on birth control, so it's especially important that providers tell women about all of the methods they can use," said Dr. Cynthia Harper, a professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences at the UCSF Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health, in a press release, explaining the study.
This view was seconded by Dr. Adam Jacobs, director of family planning for Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. "You empower women to choose when they start their family. By doing that, you let them stay in education, which leads to a better income. They're better able to plan their families and plan their lives," Jacobs said.
Experts feel that the downward trend will only continue, thanks in part to the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
"Given that we researched a period that was before the Affordable Care Act, we're interested to see what is going to happen going forward. We may see a continued downward trend," said the Guttmacher study co-author, Lawrence Finer.