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Unplanned pregnancy figures highlight areas of need: experts

Researchers are concerned that Australians aren’t making the most of the range of contraception available to them following findings that a quarter of women who have been pregnant in the previous decade said their pregnancy was unplanned.

La Trobe University researchers surveyed more than 2500 women – including 1400 women who had been pregnant in the previous decade – to learn more about unintended pregnancies and their outcomes.

Published in the Medical Journal of Australia, the study also revealed more than two-thirds (68 per cent) of the women who had an unintended pregnancy said the pregnancy was wanted.

More than half gave birth, less than a third (30.4 per cent) had an abortion and about 15 per cent had miscarriages.

Women aged 25 to 29 were the most likely to have an unintended pregnancy, followed by those aged 30 to 34.

Lead researcher Dr Angela Taft said the majority of women who had an unintended pregnancy were not using contraception at the time they fell pregnant.

“In Australia, we have access to a wide and affordable range of contraception and it’s concerning to discover many women and their partners who are not planning to fall pregnant are not taking any precautions,” Taft said.

“Clinicians and other health professionals should be encouraging women most at risk of mistimed pregnancies, including those who have already had a number of children, to use contraception if they want to avoid a surprise pregnancy.

“Effective contraception would reduce our rate of unwanted pregnancies.”

Taft added planned parenthood at any age is preferable because it allows women and their partners to better prepare themselves physically, emotionally and financially. “It also has important health benefits for both mothers and babies.”

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