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Keywords:

  • abortion;
  • contraception;
  • sex;
  • Shanghai;
  • unintended pregnancy;
  • youth

Aims

This study was conducted to determine the prevalence and the associated factors for unintended pregnancy among never-married sexually active youth (15–24 years old) in Shanghai.

Methods

Using a probability sample (n = 765, including 502 males and 263 females) from 2006, we estimated prevalence of unintended pregnancy involvement for females and males by demographic factors and its associations with contextual and behavioural factors, guided by a social-ecological framework.

Results

Weighted proportion analyses estimated that 13.8% of females and 17.7% of males had been involved in an unintended pregnancy, and 99.0% and 90.5% of such pregnancies were reported to have ended in abortion by females and males, respectively. Controlling for sexual behaviour factors and residence history, multivariate hazard analyses with Weibull functions found increased hazard among older female youth (19–21 vs. 15–18 years old) but decreased hazard among older male youth (15–18 vs. 19–21/22–24 years old) as compared with the younger groups. Parallel analyses of unintended pregnancy's associations with contextual factors by sex also suggested that female unintended pregnancy involvement was more likely to be associated with family factors (family living arrangements and maternal education), while unintended pregnancy involvement among males was only associated with school factors (school climate and sex education on pregnancy) and perceived neighbourhood contraceptive services access.

Conclusions

Sexually active and never-married youth are at considerable risk of unintended pregnancy and abortion in Shanghai. Age- and sex-specific strategies will be needed if China is going to be successful in addressing unintended pregnancy.