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Indian Journal of Community Medicine

Outcome of Unwanted Pregnancies: A Comparative Study

Author(s): R. Sharma, S.K. Choudhary, N. Pandit

Vol. 31, No. 2 (2006-04 - 2006-06)


About 75% of the world's population is living in developing world, of which India has the second largest population. Currently India's population is increasing at a rate of 16 million each year1 and it has crossed the one billion mark on 11th May 2000.2

While studying fertility behaviour, one of the important aspects is unwanted pregnancy. Out come of unwanted pregnancy shows peoples inclination towards the family planning programme. It also indirectly measures the unmet need of community. Almost all women between the ages of 13 and 50 share some risk of unwanted pregnancy. Every year, approximately 50 million unwanted pregnancies are terminated. Some 20, million of these abortions are unsafe.3

Material and Methods

The study was conducted among the population of Kishanpole area (ward 39 and 24) of Udaipur city. The area harbors 15,282 people of which 8116 are males and 7166 are females (census of Udaipur 1991).

Among the two wards, No - 39 Mograwadi a Hindu area and No - 24, Farashkhana, a Muslim area of the municipal corporation. In both areas total number of houses are 761. A total of 400 respondents from both the areas were selected using stratified random sampling.All the 400 respondents were subjected to a questionnaire designed and pre-tested specially for this study. Those, women, who were willing to answer, were included in study. While maintaining privacy the interview was taken in presence of local aganwadi- worker.


Out of 400 women, 240 (60%) were in age group 25-29 years where as 44 (11%) belonged to 15-19 years age group and onIy 116 (29%) were above 30 years of age. The mean age at effective marriage of Hindu women was 18.5 ±3.09 and for Muslim women 17 ± 2.85. The difference was statistically significant (z = 5.05, P<0.001).*

41% of Hindu women and 37% of Muslims in the present study were between 13-15 years old at the time of marriage. The study revealed that 57% of Hindu women and 62% of Muslim women were married before the minimum legal age for marriage (18 years).

Table I: Distribution of the fate of unwanted pregnancies according to decision maker.

Hindu Muslims Total
Husband 16 (20.5) 14 (15.9) 30 (18.1)
Wife 22 (28.2) 18 (20.4) 40 (24.1)
Both 34 (43.6) 54 (61.4) 88 (53.1)
Doctor 6 (7.7) 2 (2.53) 8 (4.7)
Total 78 (100) 88 (100) 166 (100)

In the study population 166 (41.5%) of pregnancies were unwanted. The main reason for unwanted pregnancies was women thought that they had completed their family (83.7%) other than reasons mentioned were inadequate spacing between the pregnancies and failure of contraceptive. The study revealed that the illiterate women (65%) had more number of unwanted pregnancy compared to educated women (35%).

Even though 139 women thought of their last pregnancy as unwanted as they had already completed the family, three fourth of them gave birth to child and the rest went for as the MTP rate was high among Hindus as compare to Muslim.

It was found in the present study that many of the families adopted family planning measures after unwanted pregnancy. The family planning adoption rate after termination of unwanted pregnancy was 72.9% among Hindu women and only 22.2% among Muslims. The difference was found to be statistically highly significant. (z = 7.34, p<0.05). That means the Muslim women were exposed to the risk of another unwanted pregnancy higher than the Hindus. Table shows the distribution of study population according to the decision maker for the fate of unwanted pregnancy. In majority of cases it was observed that the both husband and wife combine made decision for the fate of unwanted pregnancy.


In the present study, it was observed that nearly 41.5% of women had history of unwanted pregnancy during her lifetime. This indirectly shows the unmet need for contraception among study population, which is almost double than the national unmet need, which is around 20%. The same attitude of Muslim women was observed by others4-7.

Various studies and NFHS have revealed that fertility rate and pattern in both communities differ. Many factors plays role like, literacy, socio-economic status religion on the fertility pattern.


  1. Park K. "Demography and family planning" chapter No. 8, page 319-20, Parks text book of Preventive and social medicine, 16th edition.
  2. Population control - Top priority;
  3. Abortion: A Tabulation of Available Data on the Frequency and Mortality of Unsafe Abortion, 3rd edition. World Health Organisation, Geneva, 1997.
  4. Fatima N. Attitude of Muslim women towards family planning Journal of family welfare, 1977; 34(1);23.
  5. Marwah SM. A study of characteristics of MTP acceptors. Journal of Family Welfare, 1979; 26(1):23.
  6. Patel HN, Patel VM. Knowledge and attitude of Married women towards MTP Journal of Family Welfare, 1976;22:66-75.
  7. Jamsedji A, Narayan MR. MTP and concurrent contraception acceptance; Journal of Family Welfare, 1990; 36(3):42.

Deptt. of Community Medicine, Pramukh Swami Medical College,
Karamsad 388325, Gujarat.
Received: 21.09.2004

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