A new study published on Wednesday shows that unintended pregnancies are increasingly concentrated among low-income women in the U.S.
The study said that unplanned pregnancies have risen in poor women in recent years, all the while pregnancies among wealthier women the same age have dropped.
Researchers from the Guttmacher Institute found that unintended pregnancy rate among women with incomes below the federal poverty line jumped by 50 percent between 1994 and 2006.
The unplanned pregnancy rate among women with incomes at least 200 percent above the poverty line dropped 29 percent from 34 per 1,000 to 24, according to the new study.
The researchers used data from the federal National Survey of Family Growth and determined that of the 6.7 million pregnancies tracked in 2006, about 49 percent were unintended. This figure was up from 47 percent in 1994.
Lawrence Finer, the director of domestic research at the Guttmacher Institute and one of the authors of the study, said the gap was consistent with broader income-based disparities in health care outcomes nationally.
“These data suggest that women who lead stable lives–women who are older, more affluent and better-educated–tend to have better reproductive health outcomes, while women whose lives are less stable, such as younger, poorer or less educated women, have higher rates of unplanned pregnancies, unwanted births and abortions,” Finer said in a press release.
“They also show that marriage is not, in and of itself, a solution to the problems women have in controlling their fertility: In fact, poor women who are married have unintended pregnancy rates more than twice as high as those of higher-income women who are unmarried or cohabiting.”
The Guttmacher Institute works to help prevent unintended pregnancy through support for the use of contraceptives and other forms of birth control.
The research will be published in the online edition of the journal Contraception.
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