Research Activities, March 2014

High unintended pregnancy rates among Hispanic women linked to poor understanding of contraception and pregnancy

Disparities/Minority Health

Hispanics have the highest birth rate and highest unintended birth rate in the United States. In fact, data from 2006 show that Hispanics have more than double the unintended birth rate of non-Hispanic whites, 45 versus 18 per 1,000 births. 

A new study finds that while the overwhelming majority of Hispanic women have had a pregnancy, almost 70 percent of them have had at least one unintended pregnancy and over half of pregnancies (51 percent) to Hispanic women are unintended. Eighty-one percent of Hispanic teen pregnancies were identified as unintended, according to a team of researchers from Northwestern University. 

The most common reason for unintended pregnancy preceded by contraception was "improper use" (45 percent) and among pregnancies without use, the most common response (37 percent) was "I did not think I could get pregnant." 

In their discussion of these findings, the researchers cite earlier studies finding that Hispanic women have less knowledge about contraception when compared to non-Hispanics. Reasons why Hispanic women have less accurate knowledge about both contraception and reproduction may be reflected in the context, quality, and the quantity of counseling they receive both in the community and in the clinical setting. 

To provide the most recent, nationally representative description of pregnancy, childbearing, and contraception for Hispanic females aged 15–44, researchers used the 2006–2010 National Survey of Family Growth. This survey involved in-depth interviews of 12,779 women, of whom 2,723 self-reported their ethnicity as Hispanic. The researchers conclude that there is a continuing need to better educate and empower Hispanic women and girls about their reproductive capacity and their contraceptive practices. This study was supported by AHRQ (T32 HS000078, HS21141). 

See "Pregnancy intention and use of contraception among Hispanic women in the United States: Data from the National Survey of Family Growth, 2006–2010," by Lisa M. Masinter, M.D., Joe Feinglass, Ph.D., and Melissa A. Simon, Ph.D. in the Journal of Women's Health 22(10), pp. 862-870, 2013.


Page last reviewed March 2014
Page originally created March 2014
Internet Citation: High unintended pregnancy rates among Hispanic women linked to poor understanding of contraception and pregnancy. Content last reviewed March 2014. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.