Levels, Trends and Implications of Unintended Pregnancy Worldwide

Gilda Sedgh, Guttmacher Institute
Susheela D. Singh, Guttmacher Institute
Rubina Hussain, Guttmacher Institute

The outcomes of unintended pregnancies are rarely positive. Estimates of the distribution of all pregnancies according to the intention status and outcomes (wanted, mistimed or unwanted births, induced abortion, and spontaneous abortion) for major regions of the world were developed for 1995. Using information from various sources, we present updated estimates of the numbers, rates and distribution of pregnancies by their outcomes for 2008. We assess cross-regional patterns and trends in the context of fertility rates, contraceptive prevalence and unmet need. Preliminary findings indicate that over 40% of pregnancies in Europe and North America are unintended, as are over half of pregnancies in Latin America and one-third of pregnancies in Africa. In the developed world, the proportion of pregnancies ending in induced abortion has declined and the proportion ending in wanted births increased. There has been relatively little change in pregnancy outcomes in the developing world.

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Presented in Session 131: Comparative Perspectives on Sexuality, Family Planning and Fertility