Teen pregnancy and abortion rates reached a staggering all-time high in the 1980s and early 1990s, with a rate of 223.1 pregnancies and 43.5 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15-19. New research reveals that both teen pregnancy and abortion rates have decreased and are now the lowest they’ve been in 40 years. The 2008 teen pregnancy rate was 67.8 pregnancies per 1,000 teens, a 42% decrease from the highest levels. The teen abortion rate was 17.8 abortions per 1,000 teens; this is the lowest rate since the procedure was legalized in 1973. Sadly, large racial disparities still exist among women seeking abortions: Hispanic teens are four times as likely, and African American teens are twice as likely, as Caucasian teens to have an abortion. This study highlights the continued need for comprehensive sexual health education and affordable and accessible birth control options for teens.
The Guttmacher Institute, February 2012
For the 200,000 women who receive breast cancer diagnoses each year, the most common form of treatment is a lumpectomy. Lumpectomies, which account for 60-75% of breast cancer treatments, are less invasive than mastectomies because only the cancerous part of the breast is removed and the healthy breast tissue is left intact. Some women have more than one lumpectomy if pathology tests indicate that cancerous cells remain in the breast. A new study shows that repeated lumpectomy operations are performed less as a result of patient’s needs, and more due to doctor and hospital practice. In fact, the likelihood a woman will have a second lumpectomy surgery varies from 0-70%, depending on her doctor. Almost half of all repeat lumpectomy surgeries were performed on women whose charts suggested they had no remaining cancer cells and, thus, did not need the surgery. Worse, 14% of women whose charts indicated a need for a second surgery did not get one. The research suggests the need for stronger guidance on when repeat lumpectomies are appropriate to help save women’s lives.
The Journal of the American Medical Association, January 2012
The NWHN has long criticized the over-use of bone mineral density (BMD) screenings, noting that tests should only be done for women over 65 or women with either a strong family history of fractures or a medical condition that warrants BMD screening. Even among women over 65, however, we’ve wondered how often women should be screened. A new study of 4,957 post-menopausal women over age 66 found that, when screened in 15-year intervals, fewer than 10% of women with normal bone density or mild osteopenia had developed osteoporosis. Among women with moderate osteopenia, screening every 5 years yielded the same rate: fewer than 10% had developed osteoporosis. Among women with advanced osteopenia, annual screening yielded the less than 10% osteoporosis development rate. These findings suggest most women have such a low chance of developing severe bone loss that they don’t need screening tests every year or two (as used to be commonly recommended), but can schedule screening tests every 5 to 15 years. So use your new electronic calendar to remind yourself it’s time for your next test in 2017…or 2027!
New England Journal of Medicine, January 2012