Unintended pregnancy amongst an early pregnancy clinic cohort: Identifying opportunities for preventative health interventions

Aust N Z J Obstet Gynaecol. 2016 Aug;56(4):426-31. doi: 10.1111/ajo.12466. Epub 2016 May 2.


Background: A relationship between maternal weight and unintended pregnancy has previously been reported. Researchers have found women who are overweight and obese women are less likely to use contraception, and more likely to have unplanned pregnancies, thus limiting their ability to optimise their health before conception.

Aims: This study sought to examine the relationship between pregnancy intention and body mass index (BMI) amongst women attending a service managing early pregnancy complications.

Materials and methods: The cross-sectional descriptive study (n = 550) was conducted from November 2013 to February 2015 in Sydney, Australia. It documented women's pregnancy intention using a self-completed questionnaire incorporating a validated pregnancy intention scale and measuring women's height and weight to calculate their BMI using the WHO classification of anthropometry and adjusting for cut-offs in Asian populations. Socio-demographic characteristics were also documented.

Results: The respondents were ethnically diverse with over a third defining themselves as Asian (36%; 196). Forty-four per cent of women (239) had clearly intended their pregnancy, 39% (212) were ambivalent and 18% (99) had not intended to conceive. Forty-nine per cent (263) of women were overweight or obese. No relationship was found between pregnancy intention and BMI.

Conclusions: Fewer than half the women with early pregnancy complications clearly intended to be pregnant. Contrary to previous research, pregnancy intention was not associated with maternal weight. Underutilised opportunities for lifestyle and preconception education exist to address the impact of modifiable maternal behaviours on future pregnancies and to provide contraception counselling to those not wishing to conceive.

Keywords: body mass index; early pregnancy loss; obesity; pregnancy.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Promotion*
  • Humans
  • Intention*
  • Life Style
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / ethnology
  • Obesity / psychology*
  • Preconception Care
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy, Unplanned / ethnology
  • Pregnancy, Unplanned / psychology*
  • Primary Prevention
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult