The Impact of Unintended Pregnancy on Child Health

Sarah E. K. Bradley, Macro International Inc.

The belief that unintended pregnancies are associated with child health is widely held, yet based on little evidence. Specifically, only one recent article examines the health consequences for unintended pregnancies brought to term in developing countries. This paper addresses that gap, using data from 70 DHSs to examine the impact of unintendedness on child health outcomes. We measure unintendedness by: 1) mother’s retrospective accounts of pregnancy desires at the time the child was conceived; 2) treating all children at birth orders > mother’s ideal family size as unintended, and 3) considering children conceived via contraceptive failure as the “most” unintended. We examine associations between these three measures and four pregnancy/child health outcomes: ANC, facility delivery, vaccination, and nutritional status, controlling for potential confounders. We conclude with a discussion of the validity of these unintendedness measures, and the state of knowledge about the link between unintendness and child health.

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Presented in Session 6: Fertility, Health and Well-Being