Original article| Volume 24, ISSUE 4, e365-e372, July 2014

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Unintended Births Among Adult Immigrant and U.S.-Born Mexican Women in the Los Angeles Mommy and Baby (LAMB) Survey

  • Karen M. Coller
    Correspondence to: Karen M. Coller, PhD, MPH, Assistant Research Scientist, Division of General Internal Medicine (GIM) and Health Services Research, UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, 911 Broxton Ave, Los Angeles CA 90024. Phone: 310-794-8497; fax: 310-794-0732.
    Division of General Internal Medicine and Health Services Research, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, California
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  • Shin M. Chao
    Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, Los Angeles, California
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  • Michael C. Lu
    Department of Community Health Sciences, Fielding School of Public Health, University of California, Los Angeles, California

    Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, California
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  • Donna Strobino
    Department of Population, Family and Reproductive Health, Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland
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      Unintended births are especially frequent among minority women. Predictors of unintended births among adult Mexican women living in the United States are poorly characterized.


      Data are from vital statistics and the 2005 Los Angeles Mommy and Baby (LAMB) survey, a population-based study of women delivering a live birth in Los Angeles County, California (n = 1,214). Multivariable logistic regression assessed the relation of unintended birth with acculturation variables adjusting for background and psychosocial characteristics. Multinomial models assessed these relations for women with an unintended birth who did and did not use contraception.


      Forty-one percent of women reported an unintended birth. Being a long-term immigrant and U.S.-born were positively associated with unintended birth compared with shorter term immigrants, but the adjusted relation was significant only for U.S.-born women (odds ratio [OR], 2.01; 95% CI, 1.19–3.39). Women reporting an unintended birth were younger, unmarried, and higher parity. If using contraception, the odds of unintended birth were increased for cohabiting women, those with high education, and those with greater stress during pregnancy. When not using contraception and reporting an unintended birth, women also have no usual place for health care, have depressive symptoms during pregnancy, and are dissatisfied with partner support.


      Women's background and psychosocial characteristics were central to explaining unintended birth among immigrant women but less so for U.S.-born Mexican mothers. Interventions to improve birth intentions should not only target effective contraception, but also important social determinants.
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      Karen M. Coller, PhD, MPH, completed her doctoral dissertation at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and is presently Assistant Research Scientist at UCLA. Her current research addresses sexual engagement, pregnancy intentions and disparities in reproductive health.


      Shin M. Chao, PhD, is Chief of Research, Evaluation and Planning at County Los Angeles Department of Public Health. Her interests include population-based survey methodology, assessment and evaluation activities.


      Michael C. Lu, MD, MS, MPH, contributed while Associate Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Public Health at UCLA. He is currently Associate Administrator at the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). His research focuses on racial-ethnic disparities in birth outcomes.


      Donna Strobino, PhD, is Professor in the Department of Population, Family & Reproductive Health at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. Her research focuses on pregnancy outcomes and the role of social and biologic factors in maternal and child health.