Wednesday, April 7, 2010

1 in 600 Births Are Among Women Who Did Not Know They Were Pregnant

There's a fairly depressing comments section over at Salon regarding an article about a study that showed that among births, 1 in 600 women do not know that they are pregnant. Many of the commentors are blaming the fatties for being dumb and responsible for these surprise births. Now, doesn't specifically state how many of these women are overweight or obese, but it does say that this is more common among teenagers and women in their 40's--that is, women on the end of the fertility spectrum. So, in many ways, its more a matter of experience or expectations as well as body awareness, irregular periods and low-symptom pregnancies. One woman in her 40's who was quoted in the London Times piece already had three older children and she thought the missed periods were due to early menopause; she had had many symptoms with her older children and virtually none with this pregnancy. She found out she was pregnant at 7 months. Another woman with a surprise pregnancy, also in her 40's, actually took two pregnancy tests and both came back negative (in response to the missed periods, not an obvious baby bump or fetal movement, so she chalked them up to stress). Probably the most infamous case involving a surprise pregnancy happened in the 1990's when an American girl gave birth at the prom and dumped her baby in the dumpster and went back to the dance. She was seriously mentally ill as was the woman who gave birth mid-flight in the 1990's on a flight to New Zealand, whose baby was found alive in the airplane bathroom when customs officers found her blood soaked and dazed in line for entry to the country. Some surprise pregnancies happen among the mentally ill or drug addicted, that is true, but it seems with 1 in 600 births accounting for this surprise pregnancies one can't blame these all on these vulnerable populations. I don't really have any advice how to avoid this, except pay attention to your body and apparently, over-the-counter pregnancy tests aren't as reliable as they may seem, so if odd symptoms persist, have a blood test performed by your doc.


  1. I think this is one of the many reasons women need to get to know their bodies so they can know what is and isn't normal for them

    Because I keep a health journal, I can be a better health advocate for myself when my doctor wants to blame everything on weight.

  2. You should consider doing a piece about what a health journal is, how it helps you advocate for better healthcare and how to do it. I don't do it, I should start! Thanks for the idea!