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Births are sometimes classified by legitimacy 1. In general the classification depends upon the marital status of the mother at the time of the conception or confinement. Strictly speaking a legitimate child 2 may be defined as one whose father and mother were married to one another at the time of conception and a legitimate birth 3 as the delivery of such a child; other births or children are illegitimate 4. It is general practice, however, to consider as legitimate the children who result from pre-marital conceptions 5, pre-nuptial conceptions 5 or ante-nuptial conceptions 5 (i.e., conceptions occurring before marriage) provided that the parents are married to each other at the time of the birth. An illegitimate child 6 or child born out of wedlock 6, sometimes called a natural child 6, (the legal term bastard 6 has acquired a derogatory meaning) may be legitimized 8 or legitimated 8 by the subsequent marriage of his parents. The process of legitimation 9, 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 recognition 7 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 order 1 or birth rank 1, e. g. first births, second births, etc. Birth order may be determined by considering only births of the present marriage 2 or all previous births to the mother 3. 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 order 4 or confinement rank 4 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 order 5 or pregnancy rank 5 is made by counting all known pregnancies. Women are classified by parity 6, usually on the basis of the number of children born alive. In biological literature a woman is termed a primipara 7 and deemed to be primiparous 7 at her first confinement and a multipara 8 or multiparous 8 at subsequent confinements. A woman who has had no confinements at all is said to be a nullipara 9 or nulliparous 9.
- 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 timing 1 deal with the length of birth intervals 2. These include intervals between marriage and first birth 3, intervals between successive births 4 and intervals between marriage and nth birth 5. Birth spacing 6 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 intervals 7 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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