Adolescent pregnancy and challenges


Adolescent pregnancy and challenges

Adolescent pregnancies are a global problem occurring in high-, middle-, and low-income countries. However, adolescent pregnancies are more likely to occur in marginalized communities, commonly driven by poverty and lack of education and employment opportunities

In many societies, girls are under pressure to marry and bear children early. In least developed countries, at least 39% of girls marry before they are 18 years of age, 12% of them before the age of 15

Issues surrounding adolescent pregnancies and births:

• In many places girls choose to become pregnant because they have limited educational and employment prospects

• Often, in such societies, motherhood is valued and marriage or union and childbearing may be the best of the limited options available

• Adolescents face barriers to including health worker bias and/or lack of willingness to acknowledge adolescents’ sexual health needs

• An additional cause of unintended pregnancy is sexual violence, which is widespread with more than a third of girls in some countries reporting that their first sexual encounter was coerced

Early pregnancies among adolescents have major health consequences for adolescent mothers and their babies.

Health consequences

• Pregnancy and childbirth complications are the leading cause of death among girls aged 15–19 years globally

• Adolescent mothers aged 10–19 years face higher risks of eclampsia, puerperal endometritis and systemic infections

• Additionally, some 3.9 million unsafe abortions among girls aged 15–19 years occur each year, contributing to maternal mortality, morbidity and lasting health problems

• Early childbearing can increase risks for newborns as well as young mothers

• Babies born to mothers under 20 years of age face higher risks of low birth weight, preterm delivery and severe neonatal conditions

• In some settings, rapid repeat pregnancy is a concern for young mothers, as it presents further health risks for both the mother and the child

Credit: WHO



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