In addition to having associations with health outcomes, pregnancy intentions may be associated with social outcomes, including marital transitions.
Linked data from the 2004–2008 Oklahoma Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System and The Oklahoma Toddler Survey for 2006–2010 on 3,617 women who were married and 2,123 who were unmarried at conception were used to examine the relationship between pregnancy intention status (intended, mistimed by less than two years, mistimed by two or more years, or unwanted) and marital formation or dissolution by the time of the birth and two years later. Logistic regression analyses were conducted, and propensity score methods were used to adjust for confounding characteristics.
Intention status was associated with marital transition two years after the birth, but not between conception and birth. In adjusted models, among women married at conception, those with a birth resulting from an unwanted pregnancy were more likely than those with a birth resulting from an intended pregnancy to transition out of marriage by the time their child was two years old (odds ratio, 2.2). Among women unmarried at conception, those with a birth following an unwanted pregnancy were less likely than those with a birth following an intended pregnancy to marry by the time their child was two (0.5). Births following mistimed pregnancies were not associated with marital transition.
The findings should motivate researchers to broaden the scope of research on the consequences of unintended childbearing. Future research should distinguish between mistimed and unwanted births.
Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 2016, 48(1):35–43, doi: 10.1363/48e8116
Isaac Maddow-Zimet is research associate, and Laura Lindberg and Kathryn Kost are principal research scientists, all with the Guttmacher Institute, New York. Alicia Lincoln is administrative program manager, Oklahoma Department of Health, Oklahoma City.