Entries in Unplanned Pregnancy (3)


Unplanned Pregnancies Hurt Military Women, Mission Readiness

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Women in the military have access to some of the nation's best health care, which includes free birth control.  But a new study shows that many women are not using it and the rate of unintended pregnancy is double that of the general population.

And today, with the Department of Defense ending its longtime ban on women serving in combat roles, an unplanned pregnancy could have wider ramifications not only for a woman's health, but for her opportunities for advancement.

An estimated 10.5 percent of active duty women, ages 18 to 44, reported an unplanned pregnancy in the prior 12 months in 2008, the last year for which there are statistics, according to researchers at Ibis Reproductive Health, a nonprofit organization that supports women's sexual and reproductive rights.

That number was higher than in 2005, when the rate was 9.7 percent.

In the non-military population, about 5.2 percent of women of reproductive age report an unintended pregnancy each year, according to the study, published this week in the February issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

The Ibis study was based on surveys of more than 7,000 active-duty women; the statistics were obtained from the Department of Defense under the Freedom of Information Act.  Rates were equal among those women who were deployed and those serving stateside.

Women make up 202,400 of the U.S. military's 1.4 million active duty personnel; more than 280,000 women have deployed over the last decade to Iraq and Afghanistan.

"It's terrific that women are getting recognition for their role in combat missions and are being considered for all types of promotions in the armed services," said lead author Kate Grindlay, senior project manager at Ibis.  "But for women to reach their potential, they must be able to access birth control for their personal health and well-being."

About 900 women had been unable to deploy in the past year due to a pregnancy, either planned or unplanned, according to the study.  The highest rates were among younger women with less education who were either married or cohabitating, researchers said.

The authors of the study say that an unwanted pregnancy not only disrupts a woman's military career, but takes a toll on military readiness because pregnant women cannot be deployed or must be evacuated from war zones.  They say the military needs to take a more "comprehensive approach" to address the problem.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


After 30 Years, Unintended Birth Rate Still Almost 40 Percent

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- About 37 percent of births in the United States are the result of unintended pregnancies, a proportion that has remained fairly steady since 1982, according to new research from the National Center for Health Statistics, a branch of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The numbers are not surprising to many doctors and researchers, and many said it's discouraging that they have not improved in three decades.

"Trying to prevent unintended births is sort of an increasingly difficult task," said William Mosher, a statistician at NCHS and the study's lead author.

Researchers interviewed more than 12,000 women from 2006 to 2010 who had given birth to live babies.  Their findings showed changes in who is giving birth in the U.S., planned or not.  In 1982, white, married women accounted for 66 percent of births in the United States; today, that group accounts for 43 percent of total births.

But the findings also portrayed sharp demographic contrasts in women who have unintended pregnancies.

About 23 percent of married women had an unintended pregnancy, compared with 50 percent of unmarried women who were living with their baby's father and 67 percent of unmarried women not living with the baby's father.  Nearly 77 percent of teens' pregnancies were unintended, compared with 50 percent of women ages 20 to 24, and 25 percent of women ages 25 to 44.

Almost 17 percent of women with a college degree had unintended pregnancies, compared with 41 percent of women without a high school diploma.

Nearly 54 percent of black women reported an unintended pregnancy, compared with 43 percent of Hispanic women and about 31 percent of white women.

"These are staggering statistics," said Sheryl Kingsberg, a professor of reproductive biology and psychiatry at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland, who was not involved in the study.  "Here we are with various means of effective birth control at our fingertips, but it's not reaching the population that needs it the most."

Previous studies have found that about half of unintended births come from ineffective use of contraception -- not wearing a condom or inappropriately taking birth control pills, for example.  Others simply don't use contraception at all.

Some doctors say a lack of education about and access to contraception through the health care system are the prohibiting factors driving those behaviors for many women, especially teens and women with lower incomes and education.

In the current study, more than one-third of women who had unintended births reported that they didn't think they could get pregnant.  Mosher said that points to a serious sex education problem among American women.

"Basically what that suggests is that many women think that because they have not used a method and have not gotten pregnant in two or three or four acts of intercourse that they're sterile.  And of course, that's not how it works," he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Study: Unplanned Children Slower to Develop

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(OXFORD, England) -- About half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unintended -- meaning either mistimed or unwanted at the time of conception.  

By analyzing data for about 12,000 UK children, University of Oxford researchers reported in the British Medical Journal that cognitive development of children born after unplanned pregnancies lagged behind that of “planned” children.  For example, there was a three-to-five month “lag” in verbal abilities in unplanned kids compared to planned ones.  

But once the authors took into account socioeconomic factors, all differences disappeared.  Therefore, the developmental lag is associated with a lower socioeconomic status, an already well-established association.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio