Publication Date



pregnancy, complications, health care costs, race


Background: An estimated 51% of pregnancies in the United States are unintended. In Wisconsin, unplanned pregnancies account for 40% of all pregnancies and cost $148 million in public funds. Unintended pregnancy, which creates increased hardship for mothers and threatened well-being of infants, has been recognized as an important health, social and economic problem.

Purpose: To determine the pregnancy intentions of postpartum women and the maternal characteristics, outcomes and costs of care associated with unintended pregnancies at a large urban hospital in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Methods: Postpartum women were surveyed prior to discharge. The 20-item survey included whether or not the woman had been trying to get pregnant and how she felt about the timing of her pregnancy. Electronic medical records were reviewed to determine maternal and neonatal outcomes, including antenatal, perinatal, postpartum comorbidities and complications. To determine the most important factors influencing the binary and multicategory responses of pregnancy intention, logistic and multinomial regression models were developed using stepwise variable selection procedures.

Results: A total of 338 women were asked to participate, resulting in 243 completed surveys (95 exclusions: 8 declines, 29 language barriers, 46 lost to follow-up, 12 other). Overall, 63% (142/227) of pregnancies occurred when “not trying.” Logistic and multinomial regression revealed anemia (P = 0.004–0.007), anxiety (P = 0.048) and income level (P = 0.002–0.045) as the most significant predictors of unintended pregnancy. The odds of unintended pregnancy for women at the lowest two income levels were 12.05 (odds ratio: 2.82–51.39) and 3.83 (odds ratio: 1.314–11.142) times greater than those for women at the highest income level. Significant univariate associations existed between unintended pregnancy and age (P < 0.001), race (P = 0.025) and insurance (P = 0.003).

Conclusion: The unintended pregnancy rate of our study population was greater than state and national levels. Maternal characteristics of income, anemia and anxiety were the most significant predictors of pregnancy intention, but unintended pregnancy also was highly associated with younger age, African-American race and Medicaid insurance. Unintended pregnancy effects included: fewer prenatal care visits, increased prevalence of intrauterine growth restriction and decreased likelihood of breastfeeding. While the relative use of contraception was significantly greater, the absolute use among women who had an unintended pregnancy is of great clinical concern.




November 1st, 2016


November 11th, 2016


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