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Aghawan, Almuhairi, Farid, Khaled, Watad, and Zadran: Knowledge, attitudes and practice of birth spacing among married individuals in the UAE

Introduction: Birth spacing has significant effects on the social, physical and the mental well-being of the mother, her child and the family’s social life.

Objectives: To assess the knowledge, attitudes and practices of birth spacing among married adults in the United Arab Emirates.

Method: This research was a cross-sectional study. The sample was selected based on a convenience sampling method. Married adults between the ages of 20 and 45 years old were randomly chosen from public places, such as parks and shopping malls. A 29-item structured questionnaire, related to knowledge, attitudes and practice, was completed via face-to-face interview.

Results: The sample included 420 participants. Regarding knowledge, 46% (n = 193) of the sample knew the appropriate interpregnancy interval (2 years), and 59% (n = 252) were aware of its correct definition. According to recommended practice, the birth spacing interval should increase as the number of children increase. Individuals who intended to have more than three children had shorter interpregnancy intervals (mean = 1.78 years) than those who intended to have less than three children (mean = 1.88 years) (P = 0.03). Although not significant, individuals with more male children had a longer birth interval than those who had more female children. This indicated the desire of our sample population to have male children because of cultural beliefs in the UAE, as reported by some of the study subjects. Eighty-nine per cent (n = 373) agreed with the concept of birth spacing, and 78% (n = 327) preferred an interval of more than 2 years.

Conclusions: Participants knowledge relating to birth spacing was adequate and they had positive attitudes towards birth spacing. However, their practices were affected by the number and gender of the children.

Acknowledgements: Research supervisors: Mrs Amal Hussein and Dr Nahed Abdelkhalek.




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