Background: A substantial number of women become pregnant unintentionally, and unintended, but continued pregnancies can cause immense stress, particularly in cases where the pregnancy is unwanted. Failure to adopt may result in the first onset of psychiatric illness in vulnerable individuals or may exacerbate pre-existing mental illnesses. We investigate here unintended and unwanted pregnancy rates in psychiatric disease, epilepsy, and healthy groups, and further assess whether unintended and unwanted pregnancies are associated with discontinuations of medical treatment and newborn complications.
Methods: Enrolled for the study were 95 psychiatric patients, 41 epileptic patients, and 60 healthy controls. The psychiatric group consisted of schizophrenia spectrum disorders, bipolar disorder, and major depressive disorder. All of the participants completed a questionnaire inquiring about the last pregnancy intention and related factors for each pregnancy that culminated in a live birth.
Results: Unintended pregnancy rates were significantly higher in psychiatric patients (63.1%) than in epilepsy patients (20%) and healthy controls (18.7%). Unwanted pregnancy rates were also significantly higher in psychiatric patients (23.6%) than in epilepsy patients (6.7%) and healthy controls (4.7%). The number of unwanted pregnancies was statistically higher in those with longer disease duration.
Conclusions: The unintended and unwanted pregnancies rates among women with psychiatric illnesses, especially those with schizophrenia spectrum disorders, were higher than those of patients with other chronic diseases (epilepsy) and healthy controls. Given the high rates and negative consequences of unintended and unwanted pregnancy, mental healthcare providers should provide information to the patients on family planning.