Combating Racial Disparities in Unintended Pregnancies

marylandNationwide, 51 percent of all pregnancies are unintended. When the figure is broken down by race, the numbers show that 63 percent of the pregnancies of African American women are unintended compared to 42 percent of the pregnancies of White women.

A new study by researchers at the University of Maryland School of Public Health has documented characteristics of women who are likely to have unintended pregnancies, allowing social workers and public health officials to tailor programs to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies among particular populations. Women who are single, have lower levels, or education, and are younger tend to have the highest percentage of unintended pregnancies, according to the study.

The authors conclude that their “analysis showed that age, education, U.S. nativity status, relationship and marital status, poverty, and health insurance status contributed to racial and ethnic disparities in unintended pregnancy. Thus, interventions could target at-risk groups of women such as younger, unmarried, lower-income, less-educated, non-U.S. women, and uninsured or publicly insured women.”

Rada Dagher, an assistant professor of health services administration at the University of Maryland and a co-author of the study, says that “preventing unintended pregnancies should be a public health priority in the United States. Our study shows there are modifiable factors that can be targeted by policymakers to reduce these disparities.”

The study, “Racial/Ethnic Differences in Unintended Pregnancy: Evidence From a National Sample of U.S. Women,” has been published on the website of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. It may be accessed here.

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