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Statistics on Canadian Teen Pregnancies

Trends in teen pregnancy

Trends in teenage pregnancy rates are of interest to educators, health care providers, researchers and policy makers for a variety of reasons including the connection between socio-economic factors and the incidence of adolescent pregnancy/child bearing and the use of teen pregnancy trends as indicators of adolescent sexual and reproductive health.

In terms of teen pregnancy rates as indicators of adolescent sexual and reproductive health, it is assumed that a majority of teenage pregnancies are unintended and that such trends therefore reflect the extent to which young women have the capacity to control their sexual and reproductive health. It is likely that declining trends in teen pregnancy rates (in contrast to stable or increasing rates) may reflect increasing levels of effective contraceptive use, greater access to reproductive health services, exposure to higher quality sexual health education, and/or a shifting of social norms in a direction that provides greater support for young women’s capacity to exercise reproductive choice.

Below, data that illustrate trends in Canadian teen birth and abortion rates is summarized. Data on still birth/miscarriage data which is typically included in the calculation of teen pregnancy rates is excluded so that we can make direct comparisons between different countries (note: still births/miscarriages make up a small fraction of teen pregnancies).    

Teen birth/abortion rate trends in Canada

If we look at the most recent decade for which we have complete data we can see that the combined teen birth/abortion rate in Canada declined in each consecutive year from 44.2 per 1,000 women aged 15-19 in 1996 to 27.9 in 2006, a decline of 36.9% (Statistics Canada, n.d.a., n.d.b., n.d.c.) (Table 1). The Canadian teen birth rate decreased from 22.1 per 1,000 in 1996 to 14.2 in 2009, a decline of 35.7% and the teen abortion rate decreased from 22.1 in 1996 to 14.2 in 2006, a decline of 35.7%. Throughout the period of 1996 to 2006, births accounted for about 47% of the birth/abortion rate with only slight fluctuations in an overall range of 45%-50%.

Table 1: Birth, abortion, and combined birth/abortion rates per 1,000 women aged 15-19, Canada

 

1996

1997

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

Birth

22.1

20.0

19.8

18.6

17.0

16.0

14.9

14.4

13.6

13.3

13.7

14.0

14.3

14.2

Abortion

22.1

21.6

21.6

20.5

20.1

19.4

18.4

17.1

16.3

15.3

14.2

 

 

 

Total

44.2

41.6

41.4

39.1

37.1

35.4

33.3

31.5

29.9

28.6

27.9

 

 

 

Sources: Statistics Canada. (n.d.a.). Table 106-9002 – Pregnancy Outcomes. By age group, Canada, provinces and territories, annual, CANSIM (database); Statistics Canada. (n.d.b.). Table 102-4505 – Crude birth rate, age specific and total fertility rates (live births), Canada, provinces and territories, annual, CANSIM (database); Statistics Canada. (n.d.c.). Table 106-9034 – Induced abortions in hospitals and clinics, by age group and area of residence of patient, Canada, provinces and territories, annual, CANSIM database.

Trends in teen birth/abortion rates in Canada’s provinces and territories: 1995 to 2005

In this section, we compare birth/abortion rates in the provinces and Yukon in 2005 (the most recent year for which data were available) and look also at the percent decline in these rates from 1995 to 2005. Data on abortions for 2004 and 2005 were not available for the Northwest Territories and Nunavut so these rate comparisons could not be made.

Teen birth/abortion rates in Canada in 2005 (Statistics Canada, n.d.a.) varied considerably among the provinces from 22.5 per 1000 females 15-19 in Newfoundland to 42.4 in Saskatchewan (Table 2). Against a national reference point rate of 28.6 for the entire country in 2005, five provinces were below that level (P.E.I., Newfoundland, New

Brunswick, Ontario, and Nova Scotia; 18.5-23.7) and five provinces, plus the Yukon exceeded it (British Columbia, Yukon, Quebec, Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan; 29.3-42.4). In terms of regional differences, rates were lower in Eastern Canada (and Ontario) and higher in Western Canada (and Quebec and Yukon). In all cases, birth/abortion rates were lower in 2005 than in 1995 although the percentage decline varied considerably from the relatively low declines in Quebec (10%), Saskatchewan (25.5%), and Newfoundland (28.3%) to the highest declines in P.E.I (48.9%), Ontario (51.5%) and Yukon (51.8%).

Table 2: Birth/abortion rates, 15-19 year-old women, Canada, provinces, and Yukon, 1995 and 2005, percentage decline.

 

1995

2005

% Decline

Can

45.8

28.6

37.6%

NFLD

31.4

22.5

28.3%

PEI

37.0

18.9

48.9%

NS

43.2

23.7

45.1%

NB

40.4

22.6

44.1%

Q

36.0

32.4

10.0%

ON

47.4

23.0

51.5%

MB

63.9

40.5

36.6%

SK

56.9

42.4

25.5%

AL

53.7

33.0

38.5%

BC

45.3

29.3

35.3%

YK

65.1

31.4

51.8%

Source: Statistics Canada. (n.d.a.). Table 106-9002- Pregnancy outcomes, by age group, Canada, provinces and territories, annual, CANSIM (database).

Summary

For the most recent decade for which complete teen birth/abortion rate data is available (1996-2006) both birth and abortion rates declined. It should be noted that the decline in teen pregnancies evident for this ten year period are an extension of a long-term decline of teen pregnancy rates that has occurred in Canada over the past quarter century (McKay, 2006). For the period 1995-2005, the teen birth and abortion rates fell in all the measured Canadian provinces and territories although the magnitude of the declines differed between jurisdictions.  It should also be noted that the decline in the teen pregnancy rate in Canada during the 1996-2006 period was greater than in other countries such as the U.S.A. and England where teen pregnancy rates declined but to a lesser extent. The decline in teen pregnancy rates in Canada during this period provides a stark contrast to Sweden where teen pregnancy rates increased.    

 References

McKay, A. (2006). Trends in teen pregnancy in Canada with comparisons to U.S.A and England/Wales. The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, 15, 157-161.

McKay, A. & Barrett, B. (2010). Trends in teen pregnancy rates from 1996-2006: A comparison of Canada, Sweden, USA, and England/Wales. The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, 19, (1-2). 43-52.

Statistics Canada. (n.d.a). Table 106-9002 – Pregnancy outcomes, by age group, Canada, provinces and territories, annual, CANSIM (database). Retrieved 09/03/2010 from http://cansim2.statcan.gc.ca/cgi-win/cnsmcgi.exe?Lang=E&CNSM-Fi=CII/CII_1-eng.htm

Statistics Canada. (2009). Health Indicators. No. 1. Catalogue n. 82-221-XWE. http://www.statcan.gc.ca/bsolc/olc-cel/olc-cel?catno=82-X&lang-eng

Statistics Canada. (n.d.b). Table 102-4505 – Crude birth rate, age-specific and total fertility rates (live births), Canada, provinces and territories, annual, CANSIM (database). Retrieved 23/03/2010 from  http://cansim2.statcan.gc.ca/cgi-win/cnsmcgi.exe?Lang=E&CNSM-Fi=CII/CII_1-eng.htm

Statistics Canada. (n.d.c). Table 106-9034 – Induced abortions in hospitals and clinics, by age group and area of residence of patient, Canada, provinces and territories, annual, CANSIM (database). Retrieved 23/03/2010 from  http://cansim2.statcan.gc.ca/cgi-win/cnsmcgi.exe?Lang=E&CNSM-Fi=CII/CII_1-eng.htm