News from the FDA/CDC

Two-thirds of abortions occur by 8 weeks’ gestation



The majority of abortions were performed at or before 8 weeks’ gestation in 2014, although there was variation by maternal age and race/ethnicity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

That year, 65.3% of abortions were performed at a gestational age of 8 weeks or earlier, with 25.6% occurring at 9-13 weeks. Gestational distribution of the remaining abortions was fairly even: 3.4% at 14-15 weeks, 2.2% at 16-17 weeks, 2.0% at 18-20 weeks, and 1.4% at 21 weeks or later, the CDC investigators reported (MMWR Surveill Summ. 2017 Nov 25;66[24]:1-48).

The percentage of abortions occurring at 8 weeks or earlier was lowest for the youngest age group and increased along with maternal age: 43% for those under 15 years of age and progressing up to 72.5% for women over age 40. That scenario was basically reversed for all of the other gestational periods, as the under-15 group had the highest percentage for 9-13 weeks (34.4%), 14-15 (6.7%), 16-17 (3.6%), 18-20 (5.0%), and 21 weeks and later (7.3%). Those over age 40 had the lowest or almost the lowest percentage in each period, reported Tara C. Jatlaoui, MD, and her associates.

Distribution of abortions by gestational age, 2014
Looking at the situation through a racial/ethnic lens shows that black women had the lowest percentage of abortions at 8 weeks and earlier, 61%, with whites next at 69.7%, Hispanics at 70.8%, and all others at 72.6%. The numbers again were reversed at 9-13 weeks, with black women the highest at 29.3%, followed by whites (22.7%), Hispanics (21.9%), and others (19.3%). For the other gestational periods, the four race/ethnicity groups all were within one percentage point of each other: 2.9%-3.9% for 14-15 weeks, 1.7%-2.4% for 16-17 weeks, 1.6%-2.2% for 18-20 weeks, and 0.9%-1.3% for 21 weeks or later, Dr. Jatlaoui and her associates reported.

The data for gestational period analysis came from 37 states and New York City. New York State, along with 12 other states, did not report, did not report by gestational age, or did not meet reporting standards.

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