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New Brunswick's teen pregnancy rate almost twice the national average

Statistics Canada date shows that in New Brunswick, there are seven births for every 1,000 women ages 15-19, compared to about four births per 1,000 teen women nationally. (Dragan Grkic/Shutterstock - image credit)
Statistics Canada date shows that in New Brunswick, there are seven births for every 1,000 women ages 15-19, compared to about four births per 1,000 teen women nationally. (Dragan Grkic/Shutterstock - image credit)

The proportion of New Brunswick teenagers between the ages of 15 and 19 giving birth is almost twice the national average, according to a Statistics Canada report titled Fertility in Canada 1921 to 2022.

In 2022, New Brunswick's teen pregnancy rate was seven births per 1,000 teenage women, whereas the Canadian average was about four births per 1,000 teenage women.

That makes the province's rate the fifth highest in Canada, with Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Nunavut and the Northwest Territories having higher rates.

Nora Galbraith, the report's co-author, said she's not aware of any Canadian research that might help explain why the province's teen pregnancy rate is higher than the national average.

However, she said in the United States and the United Kingdom, where teenage fertility is more prevalent, studies have shown "there's usually a strong connection in terms of intergenerational transmission ...  teenage mothers are more likely to have mothers themselves who gave birth as teenagers."

She said the American and U.K. studies also point to a correlation in terms of lower socioeconomic characteristics.

'Likely that it's unplanned'

"When we're looking at teenage fertility in particular or teenage pregnancy, it's generally more likely that it's unplanned as opposed to a planned conception," Galbraith said.

"Do you have access to contraception? Do you have access to education about sexual reproductive health? Those sorts of things usually come into play."

Galbraith said there's another area where New Brunswick stands out in the report. In most of Canada the highest fertility rates are for women aged 30 to 34. But in New Brunswick, the highest fertility rates are for women aged 25 to 29.

She said women have been putting off having children until later in life to better take advantage of opportunities in education and employment.

"When women do have children in their early 20s it might be because they're looking at their future outlook and they're saying, 'Well, I'm not really seeing that there's a reason to wait,'" said Galbraith.

The overall fertility rate in New Brunswick is 1.33 children per woman — exactly the same as the Canadian average.