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Births are sometimes classified by legitimacy1. In general the classification depends upon the marital status of the mother at the time of the conception or confinement. Strictly speaking a legitimate child2 may be defined as one whose father and mother were married to one another at the time of conception and a legitimate birth3 as the delivery of such a child; other births or children are illegitimate4. It is general practice, however, to consider as legitimate the children who result from pre-marital conceptions5, pre-nuptial conceptions5 or ante-nuptial conceptions5 (i.e., conceptions occurring before marriage) provided that the parents are married to each other at the time of the birth. An illegitimate child6 or child born out of wedlock6, sometimes called a natural child6, (the legal term bastard6 has acquired a derogatory meaning) may be legitimized8 or legitimated8 by the subsequent marriage of his parents. The process of legitimation9, which varies in different countries, may confer on the illegitimate child some or all of the rights of legitimate children. In some legal systems, it is possible for a father to grant recognition7 to his illegitimate child, i.e., to admit in legal form that he is the child’s father.
- 6. According to the law of some countries a child is illegitimate if it results from an adulterous relationship, adulterous connexion or extra-marital connexion, i.e., a connexion between a married woman and a man other than her husband, but such a birth is not always registered as illegitimate.
Births are also classified by birth order1 or birth rank1, e. g. first births, second births, etc. Birth order may be determined by considering only births of the present marriage2 or all previous births to the mother3. Birth order is generally based on live births only, but occasionally late foetal deaths (410-6*) are taken into account as well. A classification by confinement order4 or confinement rank4 is made in the same way as for births by counting all pregnancies which last at least 20 to 28 weeks, and reckoning multiple births as one confinement (cf. 603-4). Similarly a classification by pregnancy order5 or pregnancy rank5 is made by counting all known pregnancies. Women are classified by parity6, usually on the basis of the number of children born alive. In biological literature a woman is termed a primipara7 and deemed to be primiparous7 at her first confinement and a multipara8 or multiparous8 at subsequent confinements. A woman who has had no confinements at all is said to be a nullipara9 or nulliparous9.
- 1. A distinction by order of births is made with multiple births, thus one twin is classified as being born before the other, no matter how close they come to being delivered simultaneously. Higher order births or subsequent births are births occurring after the last specified order, e. g. fifth and higher order births.
- 5. The terms primigravida and multigravida respectively are used for women who are pregnant for the first time or who have been pregnant before. A primipara may bo a multigravida if one of her previous pregnancies has not been carried to term.
- 6. In British medical usage parity order is determined with reference to the number of previous births and late foetal deaths, multiple births being counted as one.
A woman who has not borne any live children is called a zero parity woman, a one parity woman has borne one live child but no more, and so on.
Studies of birth timing1 deal with the length of birth intervals2. These include intervals between marriage and first birth3, intervals between successive births4 and intervals between marriage and nth birth5. Birth spacing6 is used by some as synonymous with birth timing, but others restrict its use to discussions involving the idea of conscious effort to space births, i.e., to plan and control their timing. Inter-pregnancy intervals7 are the periods between the end of one pregnancy and the beginning of the next and are useful in computing the period of exposure to the risk of conception. The puerperium (603-6) is sometimes excluded from the period of exposure.
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