Unintended Childbearing and Child Growth in Northern Malawi

Angela Baschieri*, Kazuyo Machiyama, Sian Floyd, Albert Dube, Anna Molesworth, Menard Chihana, Judith R. Glynn, Amelia C. Crampin, Neil French, John Cleland

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective The study aims to assess whether unintended children experience slower growth than intended children. Methods We analysed longitudinal data linked to the Karonga Health and Demographic Surveillance Site collected over three rounds between 2008 and 2011 on women’s fertility intentions and anthropometric data of children. Using the prospective information on fertility intention we assessed whether unintended children are more likely to be stunted than intended children. We applied Propensity Score Matching technique to control for endogenous factors affecting both the probability that a family has an unwanted birth and a child with poor health outcomes. Results We found that 24 % of children from unwanted pregnancies were stunted compared with 18 % of mistimed pregnancies and 17 % of those from wanted pregnancies. However, these differences in probability of children being stunted, though in the expected direction, were not significant either for large or small families, after controlling for age. The number of children in the household was associated with stunting and boys were substantially more likely to be stunted than girls. Conclusion We found no significance difference in probability of being stunted by mother’s fertility intention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalMaternal and child health journal
Early online date4 Aug 2016
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 4 Aug 2016


  • Africa
  • Child growth
  • Child nutrition
  • Fertility
  • Fertility intentions
  • Fertility preference
  • Malawi
  • Propensity Score Matching
  • Stunting
  • Unintended pregnancy


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