A first of its kind study analyzed the prevalence of unplanned pregnancies in the United States and found that 40 percent of American pregnancies were unintended.
According to the CIA's World Fact Book, the population of the United States is just over 310 million people. While this positions the US behind China and India for third place among global population figures, a new study released on Thursday has found that 40 percent of American pregnancies were considered unintended.
The unintended pregnancies were defined as either unwanted or poorly timed.
The state-by-state analysis revealed that 29 states and the District of Columbia had an unintended pregnancy rate of over 50 percent, USA Today reported.
The study, commissioned by the Guttmacher Institute, is the first of its kind. The group has also revealed that unintended pregnancies cost American taxpayers approximately $11 billion per year. Guttmacher Institute's tagline states that its interests are in "advancing sexual and reproductive health worldwide through research, policy analysis and public education."
The analysis found that the highest rates of unintended pregnancies occurred in the South and the Southwest and in states with large urban areas. New Hampshire had the lowest rate of unplanned pregnancies, and in contrast Mississippi had the highest rate among states measured.
"There are many, many reasons why people don't plan ahead, even when it's such a crucial decision," Claire Brindis, director of the Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health at the University of California-San Francisco, told USA Today.
The study found that roughly 65-75 percent of unintended pregnancies were considered mistimed. However, "mistimed" did not translate into "unwanted." Comparatively, 25-35 percent were considered "unwanted."
"We know we have very high levels of unintended pregnancy in the U.S., much higher than in most places around the developed world," Kelly Musick, a sociologist at Cornell University, explained to USA Today.
Unintended pregnancies can lead to abortions, and an analysis released in January 2011 reflected an increase in US abortions over the last period measured. According to CNS News, 1.2 million abortions were performed in 2008 alone.