Unintended pregnancies, that is to say, pregnancies that are unplanned or unwanted,
are a frequent occurrence and a global problem. In the United States, nearly half
(45%) of the 6 million annual pregnancies are unintended. Assuming no change in
current contraceptive failure rates, by age 45, more than half of all U.S. women will
have had an unintended pregnancy. Teen pregnancy rates in the U.S. are also very
high, about twice as high as the rates in Canada or Sweden, with more than 600,000
pregnancies among young women age 15 to 19 each year. More than 80% of U.S.
teen pregnancies are unplanned. Teens account for about one-fifth of all unintended
pregnancies, and about 10% of all U.S. births are to teenagers.
By providing access to contraceptive information and services, family planning
helps people to attain their desired number of children and determine the spacing of
pregnancies. This allows for the healthiest pattern of childbearing. Births that occur
among women in their teens, especially among women younger than 18, those
among women older than age 35, those that are more closely spaced than two years
apart, and those of higher birth orders, (i.e., that occur after the second or third
birth), are more dangerous for both the mother and her child. A high-risk pattern of
childbearing also is more likely to result in preterm or low birth-weight babies who
have higher rates of neonatal mortality.
With every birth, even in wealthy countries, there is a risk of illness and death
(maternal mortality), and the infants of mothers who die in childbirth have a much
greater risk of poor health and death. Some contraceptive methods, especially male
and female condoms, provide dual protection, both against undesired pregnancies
and against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV. Family planning
also reduces the risk of unintended pregnancies among women living with HIV,
resulting in fewer HIV infected babies and fewer orphans.
In addition to the health risk of pregnancy, there are social issues. As Jennifer Frost
and her colleagues noted: “Unintended pregnancy can force women and their families
to confront difficult abortion decisions or the potentially negative consequences
associated with unplanned childbearing—including child health and development
issues, relationship instability, and compromises in education and employment that
may exacerbate ongoing poverty.” Teen childbearing is associated with reduced
educational attainment, and higher educational attainment and income are associated
with better health. Teen pregnancy has important consequences for future
careers and earning potential as fewer than 2% of teens who have a baby before age
18 attain a college degree by age 30.
This blog presents opinions and ideas and is intended to provide helpful general information. I am not engaged in rendering advice or services to the individual reader. The ideas, procedures and suggestions in that are presented are not in any way a substitute for the advice and care of the reader’s own physician or other medical professional based on the reader’s own individual conditions, symptoms or concerns. If the reader needs personal medical, health, dietary, exercise or other assistance or advice the reader should consult a physician and/or other qualified health professionals. The author specifically disclaims all responsibility for any injury, damage or loss that the reader may incur as a direct or indirect consequence of following any directions or suggestions given in this blog or participating in any programs described in this blog or in the book, The Building Blocks of Health––How to Optimize Your Health with a Lifestyle Checklist (available in print or downloaded at Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble and elsewhere). Copyright 2021 by J. Joseph Speidel.