Pregnancy intentions following COVID-19 outbreak

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Key Points

Question  Were there changes in pregnancy intentions among women who were mothers of young children around the peak of the first wave of COVID-19 in New York City?

Findings  In this cross-sectional study of 1179 women in New York City who were mothers of young children, nearly half of those who had been attempting to become pregnant and more than a third who had been thinking about trying before the COVID-19 pandemic stopped in the first few months of the outbreak. Women who responded to a survey during the lockdown were more likely to cease attempts or plans to become pregnant.

Meaning  The results of this study suggest that the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic was associated with fewer women planning or attempting to become pregnant; these findings may have long-term effects on fertility rates.

Abstract

Importance  Early evidence shows a decrease in the number of US births during the COVID-19 pandemic, yet few studies have examined individual-level factors associated with pregnancy intention changes, especially among diverse study populations or in areas highly affected by COVID-19 in the US.

Objective  To study changes in pregnancy intention following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and identify factors possibly associated with these changes.

Design, Setting, and Participants  A cross-sectional, population-based study was conducted among women who were currently pregnant or had delivered a live infant and responded to a survey emailed to 2603 women (n = 1560). Women who were mothers of young children enrolled in the prospective New York University Children’s Health and Environment Study birth cohort were included; women who were not currently pregnant or recently postpartum were excluded.

Exposures  Demographic, COVID-19–related, stress-related, and financial/occupational factors were assessed via a survey administered from April 20 to August 31, 2020.

Main Outcomes and Measures  Pregnancy intentions before the COVID-19 pandemic and change in pregnancy intentions following the outbreak.

Results  Of the 2603 women who were sent the survey, 1560 (59.9%) who were currently pregnant or had delivered a live infant responded, and 1179 women (75.6%) answered the pregnancy intention questions. Mean (SD) age was 32.2 (5.6) years. Following the outbreak, 30 of 61 (49.2%) women who had been actively trying to become pregnant had ceased trying, 71 of 191 (37.2%) women who had been planning to become pregnant were no longer planning, and 42 of 927 (4.5%) women who were neither planning nor trying were newly considering pregnancy. Among those who ceased trying, fewer than half (13 [43.3%]) thought they would resume after the pandemic. Of those pre–COVID-19 planners/triers who stopped considering or attempting pregnancy, a greater proportion had lower educational levels, although the difference was not statistically significant on multivariable analysis (odds ratio [OR], 2.14; 95% CI, 0.92-4.96). The same was true for those with higher stress levels (OR, 1.09; 95% CI, 0.99-1.20) and those with greater financial insecurity (OR, 1.37; 95% CI, 0.97-1.92. Those who stopped considering or attempting pregnancy were more likely to respond to the questionnaire during the peak of the outbreak (OR, 2.04; 95% CI, 1.01-4.11). Of those pre–COVID-19 nonplanners/nontriers who reported newly thinking about becoming pregnant, a smaller proportion responded during the peak, although the finding was not statistically significant on multivariable analysis (OR, 0.52; 95% CI, 0.26-1.03). Likewise, fewer respondents who were financially insecure reported newly considering pregnancy, although the finding was not statistically significant (OR, 0.69; 95% CI, 0.46-1.03). They were significantly less likely to be of Hispanic ethnicity (OR, 0.27; 955 CI, 0.10-0.71) and more likely to have fewer children in the home (OR, 0.62; 95% CI, 0.40-0.98) or self-report a COVID-19 diagnosis (OR, 2.70; 95% CI, 1.31-5.55).

Conclusions and Relevance  In this cross-sectional study of 1179 women who were mothers of young children in New York City, increased stress and financial insecurity owing to the COVID-19 pandemic paralleled a reduction in pregnancy intention in the early months of the pandemic, potentially exacerbating long-term decreases in the fertility rate.

Source: Pregnancy intentions following COVID-19 outbreak



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