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30% of Pregnancies Unintended

About 30 percent of pregnancies in large Chinese cities are unwanted, a new survey indicates, and experts say 90 percent of unintended pregnancies end in abortion.

The survey, which covered 1,300 women of childbearing age in seven large cities such as Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou, suggests most women lack proper understanding of contraception methods.

They are also increasingly likely to engage in premarital sex, according to the survey.

Medical experts and pharmaceutical professionals will launch a series of educational events later this year to improve women's reproductive knowledge.

About 40 percent of survey respondents said they have or are willing to engage in premarital sex and 15 percent of those between the ages of 23 and 27 live with their boyfriends.

Women are able to bear children for a longer period than they were in the past, which has also contributed to the increase in unwanted pregnancies, said Cheng Li'nan, president of Shanghai International Peace Maternity and Child Health Hospital.

While contraceptive pills are popular in the West, few Chinese women use them.

About half of Western women of childbearing age are on the pill, but only 2.6 percent of women in China and 5 to 6 percent of women in large Chinese cities use oral contraception.

"Women don't choose oral contraceptives for fear of side effects," Cheng said. "With the development of technology, there are no serious side effects.

Professional researches from home and abroad have shown that the pill won't enhance any risks, such as cancer, weight increases and problems with future pregnancies.

Health experts estimate 7 to 8 million abortions were conducted in China from 1994 to 1997.

Researches in Shanghai and Shandong Province found that 30 percent of women who had abortions never used contraceptives.

(Shanghai Daily September 17, 2005)

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