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ERIC Number: ED510648
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2007-May
Pages: 20
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 65
The Consequences of Unintended Childbearing: A White Paper
Logan, Cassandra; Holcombe, Emily; Manlove, Jennifer; Ryan, Suzanne
Child Trends
This report provides a critical review of the current research literature on the consequences of unintended childbearing for families and children. The review addresses the following potential consequences: prenatal and perinatal risks (e.g., inadequate or delayed initiation of prenatal care, smoking/drinking/substance use during pregnancy, prematurity, low birthweight and not breastfeeding); risks for the children born from unintended births (e.g., poor physical and mental health; poor developmental, behavioral and educational outcomes; poor mother-child relationships; and weaker union formation in young adulthood); and risks for parents who have an unintended birth (e.g., poor psychological well-being, negative attitudes towards parenting, and low relationship quality). In compiling the review, the authors identified the most methodologically- and analytically-sound articles they could find that examine the potential outcomes associated with unintended childbearing. They rely primarily on multivariate studies, but they also report findings from bivariate and qualitative analyses that offer important insight into this topic. When reporting on results from only one study to support an argument, they specify the sample and methods used in the analysis. They focus their examination on articles published since 1995 and, when possible, distinguish those births that were reported as mistimed at the time of conception (i.e., occurred sooner than originally wanted) from those that were unwanted. Although there is research on the prevalence and consequences of unintended pregnancies that result in abortion or miscarriage, they focus their literature review on the consequences of only those unintended pregnancies that result in a live birth. They set out to focus their review on young adults; however, they found no research that specifically focuses on unintended births to young men and women in their early twenties, although most studies did control for maternal age. Therefore, unless otherwise indicated, the outcomes reported are for unintended births that occur across a broad age range. Finally, this literature review focuses on the methodological issues of self-selection and endogeneity, to address whether or not the consequences of unintended births are primarily due to pre-existing characteristics of the parents involved. Thus, where relevant, they indicate when methods are used to control for selection effects and endogeneity. This comprehensive summary serves as an important update to the chapter on the consequences of unintended pregnancy published in 1995 in "The Best Intentions: Unintended Pregnancy and the Well-Being of Children and Families"; it provides a well-documented and more current statement about the consequences of unintended childbearing for children and families. In addition, it offers important background material for educating the public about the importance of decreasing unintended childbearing among people of all ages, not just teenagers.
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Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Child Trends