Maternal and Child Health Journal

, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp 930–938 | Cite as

Parental Pregnancy Wantedness and Child Social-Emotional Development

  • Haneefa T. Saleem
  • Pamela J. Surkan


To examine how maternal and paternal pregnancy wantedness and couple concordance regarding pregnancy wantedness predict children’s social-emotional development in kindergarten. We used data from nationally representative US sample from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study Birth Cohort. Exposures of interest were maternal and paternal pregnancy wantedness, and couple concordance regarding pregnancy wantedness. Children’s social-emotional development was evaluated by the child’s kindergarten teacher using an adapted version of the Preschool and Kindergarten Behavior Scales. We examined bivariate associations between pregnancy wantedness and key socio-demographic variables in relation to children’s social-emotional development. Multiple linear regression was used to assess the relationship between each pregnancy wantedness predictor and children’s social-emotional development scores. Items related to child concentration and attention appeared to be the components driving almost all the associations with social-emotional development. Maternal report of unwanted pregnancy, resident father’s report of mistimed pregnancy, and discordance of parental pregnancy wantedness (specifically when the mother wanted but the father did not want the pregnancy) predicted lower children’s social-emotional development scores. Results suggest that maternal unwanted pregnancy and couple discordance in pregnancy wantedness were associated with poorer social-emotional development, especially in the area of concentration and attention, in kindergarten.


Pregnancy intention Unwanted pregnancy Children’s social-emotional development Couples 



The authors would like to thank the Department of Education for access to the ECLS-B data used in this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Social and Behavioral Interventions Program, Department of International HealthJohns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public HealthBaltimoreUSA
  2. 2.Department of Population, Family and Reproductive HealthJohns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public HealthBaltimoreUSA

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