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Does Wanting to Become Pregnant with a First Child Affect Subsequent Maternal Behaviors and Infant Birth Weight?

William Marsiglio and Frank L. Mott
Journal of Marriage and Family
Vol. 50, No. 4 (Nov., 1988), pp. 1023-1036
DOI: 10.2307/352112
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/352112
Page Count: 14
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Abstract

Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Labor Market Experience of Youth, we examined the relationship between whether or not women wanted to become pregnant with their first child, and their subsequent maternal behaviors and infant's birth weight. Fifty-five percent of our sample wanted to become pregnant when they did. Being a black or younger mother was associated with below-average levels of pregnancy wantedness, while living in an urban area was positively associated with wantedness. We found that while wantedness was related to most of the maternal behaviors in a bivariate context, age at childbearing and race tended to be responsible for these relationships. In a multivariate context, women who wanted their pregnancy were more likely to initiate prenatal care early in their pregnancy and more likely to gain an excessive amount of weight—50 or more pounds during pregnancy. However, wantedness was not a significant predictor of a variety of other behaviors and characteristics, including alcohol or smoking behavior, low weight gain by the mother during pregnancy, her infant's birth weight, whether she ever breastfed her infant, or whether she took her infant for well-baby care soon after birth.

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