Children born after unplanned pregnancy are slower to develop

Children born after unplanned pregnancies tend to have a more limited vocabulary and poorer non-verbal and spatial abilities; however this is almost entirely explained by their disadvantaged circumstances, according to a new study published in the British Medical Journal today. The same study reported no adverse effects of infertility treatment on the children.

In the UK, as many as 30-40% of pregnancies that end in childbirth are unplanned, while the number of children born after assisted reproductive technologies is growing every year.

It is already known that children born after a prolonged time to conception or are at greater risk of poor , such as preterm birth, , and congenital anomalies, and some researchers have reported lower cognitive (mental) scores in such children.

Unplanned pregnancies also have poorer outcomes, but there has been little research to assess whether child development is associated with pregnancy planning.

So a team of UK researchers set out to investigate how pregnancy planning, time to conception, and infertility treatment influence a child's cognitive development at three and five years old.

They analysed data from approximately 12,000 children from the Millennium Cohort Study, a large UK study of families and infants born in 2000-2. Parents who took part were interviewed when their child was nine months old and then revisited when the child was three and five years old.

Mothers reported whether the pregnancy was planned, their feelings when first pregnant, time to conception, and details of any .

Each child's verbal, non-verbal and spatial abilities were tested at age three and five using the British Ability Scales.

Initial analyses showed that children born after an were four to five months behind planned children in verbal abilities, while children born after assisted reproduction were three to four months ahead.

However, these differences all but disappeared when the researchers took into account the socioeconomic circumstances of each child.

The authors conclude: "These differences are almost entirely explained by socioeconomic factors, providing further evidence of the influence of socioeconomic inequalities on the lives of children in the UK. To help children achieve their full potential, policy makers should continue to target social inequalities."

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Study: When a child's birth is unplanned

Apr 30, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- One-third of all children born in the United States are the result of unintended pregnancies and not only do these children receive less attention and warmth from their parents than children whose births ...

Recommended for you

Influence of migration on health

24 minutes ago

Migration has a significant influence on the health sector, including in Austria. The healthcare sector faces challenges due to migrants' different social status, background and gender, as Christine Binder-Fritz ...

Uruguay begins registering marijuana growers

8 hours ago

Just a handful of people had registered by midday Wednesday to be private growers of marijuana in Uruguay, the first country to fully legalize the production, sale and distribution of the drug.

Tracking spending among the commercially insured

18 hours ago

Recent growth in health care spending for commercially insured individuals is due primarily to increases in prices for medical services, rather than increased use, according to a new study led by researchers at The Dartmouth ...

User comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Bonkers
1 / 5 (1) Jul 27, 2011
But, hang on, socio-economic status is also fairly strongly correlated with parental primary intelligence, and with what they then get from their education. Is there not a recursion here? i.e. its not riches that produce brains, but brains that produce riches that produce brains.
Bonkers
1 / 5 (1) Jul 27, 2011
This is dangerous territory of course, but i would be cautious of "throwing money" at the problem, hoping that increased socio-economic status will be a wonder-cure. Here in Britain the champions of the S-E disadvantaged looked longingly at the apparent advantages of a university education, but graduates did well because they were already the top 5-10% of their generation. Suddenly opening universities to 50% of the population didn't put those 50% into the top 5-10%, of course it didn't. Actually it has made the government finance model - which worked when it subsidised only 5% of the population, untenable. Now we have university affordable only by the very rich or the very poor.
Shelgeyr
not rated yet Jul 27, 2011
Children born after unplanned pregnancies tend to have a more limited vocabulary and poorer non-verbal and spatial abilities; however this is almost entirely explained by their disadvantaged circumstances...


I find it somewhat odd that they don't include children who were unplanned but given up for adoption. I'm willing to bet they don't fit this pattern, precisely because they aren't being (or haven't been) raised in "disadvantaged circumstances".

It is always pointless to generalize from a very small number of examples, but I'm going to anyways because the two children I know of who were both (A) unplanned, and (B) adopted, are actually ahead of the game and have been developing abilities and skills a bit earlier than normal. I'm pretty sure this also holds true for the adults I know who were adopted as children.
bottomlesssoul
not rated yet Jul 27, 2011
The researchers looked at this backwards. Children whose parents plan and anticipate their future might be healthier than children whose parents 'wing it'.