Children from unwanted pregnancies
Copyright 1978 Blackwell Munksgaard
Unwanted pregnancy • induced abortion • child development • psychosocial development • child health • family relations • youth education
The health and development of 220 children born of unwanted pregnancies (UP) was investigated in a case-control study 9 years after their births. The analysis was based partly on data from health records and school reports, and partly on direct examination of the child and parents by a team of professionals using psychological tests, sociograms, rating scales, questionnaires, structured interviews and medical examinations.
Although differences between wanted and control children were not dramatic, they were consistent and multiple and tend to support the major hypothesis that the development of children born of unwanted pregnancies would be more problem prone. A child born from an unwanted pregnancy, especially a boy, is more likely to have deficiencies in psychosocial development and educational achievement than other children his own age, despite equivalent health status at birth.
The mothers of unwanted children, compared with mothers who accepted their pregnancy (AP children), despite having the same level of education and socioeconomic background, show less stability in their marital lives, poorer interaction with their husbands, a higher abortion rate before and after the birth of the unwanted child, less involvement in the upbringing of the child, and somewhat poorer interaction with their social environments. Nevertheless the majority of the mothers studied seem to have gradually changed from an originally strongly negative attitude toward the pregnancy to an accepting attitude toward the child.
A Maladaptation Score (MS) was developed as an overall measure of the social status of the child within the family and society. Differences between UP and AP children, which were not so definitive when viewed in terms of individual indicators, came into sharper focus when the cumulative effects of negative factors were noted. The MS findings confirmed more concretely that children born from unwanted pregnancies are more often in an unfavorable social situation and at greater future risk.
Received July 7, 1977