Pregnancy Intentions and Maternal Behaviors: Testing the Relationship with New Methods of Analysis

Kathryn Kost, Guttmacher Institute
Laura Lindberg, Guttmacher Institute

Public health policy is strongly influenced by the premise that unintended childbearing has significant negative effects on the behavior of mothers both during pregnancy and afterward, and that such behaviors directly affect the health and wellbeing of the infant. Research findings on these relationships are mixed; while numerous studies have found an association of childbearing intentions with maternal behaviors, others have not. However, one issue that has not been adequately addressed in the body of research addressing the consequences of unintended childbearing is potential selection bias that affects which women actually have an intended or unintended pregnancy. This paper addresses this issue by employing statistical methods as yet unused for this field of research — inverse probability weights — to provide a new and more stringent test of the relationship between pregnancy intentions and maternal behaviors during and after pregnancy.

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