Maternal and Child Health Journal

, Volume 12, Issue 3, pp 332–341 | Cite as

Unintended Childbearing and Knowledge of Emergency Contraception in a Population-Based Survey of Postpartum Women

  • Kimberley A. Goldsmith
  • Laurin J. Kasehagen
  • Kenneth D. Rosenberg
  • Alfredo P. Sandoval
  • Jodi A. Lapidus



We examined the relationship between unintended childbearing and knowledge of emergency contraception.


The Oregon Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS) is a population-based survey of postpartum women. We analyzed data from the 2001 PRAMS survey using logistic regression to assess the relationship between unintended childbearing and emergency contraception while controlling for maternal characteristics such as age, race/ethnicity, education, marital status, family income, and insurance coverage before pregnancy.


In 2001, 1,795 women completed the PRAMS survey (78.1% weighted response proportion). Of the women who completed the survey, 38.2% reported that their birth was unintended and 25.3% reported that they did not know about emergency contraception before pregnancy. Unintended childbearing was associated with a lack of knowledge of emergency contraception (OR 1.43, 95% CI 1.00, 2.05) after controlling for marital status and age.


Women in Oregon who were not aware of emergency contraception before pregnancy were more likely to have had an unintended birth when their marital status and age were taken into account. Unintended birth was more likely among women who were young, unmarried, lower income, and uninsured. Given that emergency contraception is now available over-the-counter in the US to women who are 18 years of age or older, age- and culturally-appropriate public health messages should be developed to expand women’s awareness of, dispel myths around, and encourage appropriate use of emergency contraception as a tool to help prevent unintended pregnancy and birth.


Unintended pregnancy Emergency contraception Postcoital contraception Pregnancy PRAMS 



We thank Tina Kent for her work on Oregon PRAMS. We also thank the Maternal and Child Health Bureau of the Health Resources and Services Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for their support of Oregon PRAMS.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kimberley A. Goldsmith
    • 1
    • 2
  • Laurin J. Kasehagen
    • 3
  • Kenneth D. Rosenberg
    • 1
    • 3
  • Alfredo P. Sandoval
    • 3
  • Jodi A. Lapidus
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Public Health and Preventive MedicineOregon Health & Sciences UniversityPortlandUSA
  2. 2.Medical Research Council Biostatistics UnitCambridgeUK
  3. 3.Office of Family Health, Oregon Department of Human ServicesPortlandUSA

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