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

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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Coronavirus cases hit multiweek lows in D.C. region, but experts fear cold weather could reverse trend

But health experts cautioned that there’s no guarantee the numbers will continue to fall, as chillier October weather begins to usher outdoor activities indoors.

Taison Bell, an assistant professor of medicine specializing in infectious diseases and critical care at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, said the greater Washington region is “in a bit of a steady state” in its number of reported coronavirus cases. The region’s caseload had held steady for several weeks before starting to tick downward about 10 days ago.

He also cautioned that the arrival of cooler weather could increase the spread of the virus as people increasingly decide to congregate indoors.

Neil J. Sehgal, an assistant professor of health policy and management at the University of Maryland School of Public Health, urged residents to consider the pandemic as they make plans for the holidays. They should remember that this is “not the normal holiday season,” he said.

Sehgal said progress in some jurisdictions while battling the virus has started to slow, singling out Prince George’s County, where outbreaks have been reported at the University of Maryland. He said other college towns in the region, including Virginia’s Blacksburg and Charlottesville, also have seen caseloads rise as students go back to school.

“We haven’t controlled transmissions,” Sehgal said. “We’re still riding our first wave of the outbreak. We saw a summer dip, but we never stamped it out. There are still chains of transmission in the community.”

Short of a vaccine, Sehgal said, recent days are probably “as safe as it’s going to be” in terms of a lowered number of cases in the Washington region, also noting the likelihood of increased spread as the weather turns colder.

Still, D.C., Maryland and Virginia have made progress in battling the virus in recent days.

The seven-day rolling average of new cases in Washington’s Northern Virginia suburbs stood at 190 on Wednesday, with the region this week notching its lowest average caseloads since early August. Statewide, the number of new daily cases is the lowest since mid-July.

In D.C., the seven-day average dropped to 39 on Wednesday, the lowest in the city since early July.

Maryland’s seven-day average stood at 490 on Wednesday, up slightly in recent days but about half the number of daily cases as early August. Caseloads have held mostly steady in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties in recent weeks.

Montgomery County officials said Wednesday that they are continuing to accumulate supplies in preparation for a possible increase in coronavirus cases this fall or winter.

“We are in a lot better position than we were in the spring,” County Executive Marc Elrich (D) said at a news conference. “We made a decision in the beginning that we would accumulate enough supplies for a second surge.”

Among the supplies are 50 new ventilators that arrived this summer, officials said.

The seven-day rolling average of new cases in the county stood at 83 on Wednesday, with a test positivity rate of 2.6 percent. County health officer Travis Gayles