A large percentage of pregnancies are not planned in the United Kingdom, as much as 30 to 40 percent of all babies who are born were technically a surprise. If you take into account miscarriages, abortions, and other late pregnancy losses, that is a whole lot of unplanned pregnancies. Unplanned pregnancies are obviously nothing rare, and nothing to be ashamed of. But a new study from the UK says that unplanned babies are slower to develop.
The study was published in the British Medical Journal and looked at 12,000 children to determine how family planning, fertility treatment, and the amount of time needed to conceive from the point of first trying affects the cognitive development of children later on. The study team took a closer look at mothers' use of infertility drugs, the time needed to conceive, whether their pregnancy was planned or not, and how mothers felt during the beginning of the pregnancy. The children who participated in the study were tested to measure their cognitive development in verbal, non verbal and spacial areas. Interestingly, the results initially seemed to point to unplanned children being four to five months behind planned children in verbal abilities. Those who were conceived with the help of fertility treatments like IVF appeared to be months ahead.
After adjusting for socio-economic factors, the results were no longer so clear, since the unplanned children's slower development could be attributed to less advantaged home situations instead. That doesn't sound very politically correct, does it? After all, unplanned babies can happen to anyone, and not just to say to pull one huge stereotype out of the drawer unwed teen moms. However, when we take into account that fertility treatment costs a lot of money, and that many couples may have no idea how to afford fertility treatment, that assessment makes sense. Other studies have shown that children conceived with the help of treatments like IVF have poorer health outcomes including preterm delivery and a higher incidence of congenital birth defects.