U.S. Pregnancy Rate Down from Peak; Births and Abortions on the Decline

For Release: October 31, 2003

Contact: NCHS/CDC Public Affairs, (301) 458-4800

E-mail: paoquery@cdc.gov

Revised Pregnancy Rates, 1990-97, and New Rates for 1998-99: United States. NVSR Volume 52, Number 7. 15 pp. (PHS) 2004-1120. [PDF – 1.1 MB]

The number of pregnancies in the United States in 1999 dropped 7 percent from the peak in 1990. There were 6.28 million U.S. pregnancies in 1999 compared with 6.78 million in 1990. The 1999 total pregnancy count includes about 3.96 million live births, 1.31 million induced abortions, and 1 million fetal losses (miscarriages and stillbirths).

From 1990 to 1999, there was a 9-percent decline in the birth rate (from 70.9 to 64.4 births per 1,000 women aged 15-44) and a 22-percent drop in the abortion rate (27.4 to 21.4), with an overall 12 percent decline in the pregnancy rate from 115.6 to 102.1. These trends and other findings are outlined in a new report issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which updates and revises pregnancy rates from 1990 to 1999 to include the latest abortion data for 1999.

Women aged 20-24 had the highest pregnancy rate, followed by women aged 25-29. About 1 in 6 women in their 20s was pregnant in 1999. Other findings released in the report include:

  • Teen pregnancy rates have reached historic lows dropping 25 percent from 1990 to 1999. The birth rate dropped 19 percent and the abortion rate was down 39 percent in this age group. More recent data indicate the teen birth rate has continued to drop through 2002 -– down 28 percent.
  • Pregnancy rates for women in their 30s and over have been increasing modestly since the mid-1990s.


  • The 1999 pregnancy rates for black and Hispanic teenagers were more than twice the rate of non-Hispanic white teens. These differences narrowed for women in their 20s, and disappeared by age 35;
  • Black women had an average of 4.5 pregnancies during their lifetimes compared with 4.1 pregnancies for Hispanic women and 2.7 for non-Hispanic white women. The lifetime pregnancy rate is calculated by projecting pregnancy rates by age over the course of a woman’s childbearing years.

Marital status:

  • The pregnancy rate for married women declined 12 percent from 1990 through 1996-97, but has increased slightly since then;
  • The pregnancy rate for unmarried women has continuously declined through the 1990s;
  • The abortion rate dropped by about 25 percent for both married and unmarried women through the 1990s;
  • The birth rate for unmarried women is about half the rate of married women;
  • The abortion rate for unmarried women is over four times higher than that of married women;
  • Looking at pregnancies among married women, three out of four ended in a live birth in 1999, and 7 percent ended in abortion;
  • Among unmarried women about half the pregnancies ended in a live birth while about 40 percent ended in abortion. In 1990 pregnancies among unmarried women were more likely to end in abortion than in a live birth.

The report, “Revised Pregnancy Rates, 1990-97, and New Rates for 1998-99: United States,” uses complete counts of births as reported to CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics through the National Vital Statistics System. Estimates of abortions are from abortion surveillance information collected from most States by CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion adjusted to national totals by the Alan Guttmacher Institute. Fetal loss estimates are from CDC’s National Survey of Family Growth.

The pregnancy rates in this report are based on population estimates from the 2000 census. The report is available to view or download at the CDC/NCHS Web site.