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January 22, 1982

Forecasting Motherhood

JAMA. 1982;247(4):497. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03320290043032

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Forecasting trends in births and deaths is as difficult as predicting next week's weather. The data on which the forecast is made may be reliable but unforeseen circumstances can lead to unforeseen results. Adams et al, in this issue of The JOURNAL (p 493), predicted decline of births in the 1980s to teenagers and an increase in births to women older than 35 years.

This could be a "good news/bad news" story. The good news is that fewer children will be born to young mothers ill-prepared to care for them. The bad news is that we can expect babies born to older women to show a higher incidence of birth defects. However, a number of social trends and medical forces that were not discussed by Adams and colleagues could upset their projections. Federal and state legislatures are currently erecting obstacles to teenagers' access to abortion, and pro-life groups are busy