Background
Unplanned pregnancies can bring risk. It is important to have an accurate count of unplanned pregnancies, but to date there is no precise number for New Zealand or Australia.

Aims
This analysis estimates the number and proportion of pregnancies in New Zealand that are unplanned.

Materials and methods
Estimates were generated using information about unplanned births from the Growing Up in New Zealand study, combined with data on the number of births and abortions from Statistics New Zealand and estimates of miscarriages. These were further refined by age and ethnic group.

Results
Of an estimated 95 335 pregnancies in New Zealand in 2008, over half (53%) were unplanned. Unplanned pregnancies resulted in 24 131 births. As a percentage of all pregnancies, 25% were births from unplanned pregnancies, 19% were abortions and 8% were unplanned pregnancies that ended in miscarriage. There were a high number of unplanned pregnancies among younger women as well as among Maori and Pacific women, and a low number among women in their 30s and European women.

Conclusions
Programs, policy and practice should be designed to accommodate women with unplanned pregnancies. Ensuring accessible pregnancy care such as antenatal care and abortion and making preconception care programs widely available, particularly for women with chronic health conditions, will reduce the health risk posed by unplanned pregnancies. Reducing the number of unplanned pregnancies through comprehensive sexuality education and contraception is important for those in their teens and early 20s, and continues to be important throughout the reproductive lifespan.