Teenage pregnancy is a global social and health challenge owing to its diverse health andrndemographic consequences Mkwananzi 2016 WHO 2018. Adolescent pregnancies occurrnacross all socio-cultural and economic divides occurring across high- middle- and lowincome countries. Globally in 2018 approximately 21 million teenage girls presented withrnpregnancy: with 71 16 million presenting in the developing world UNFPA 2018. Of thern21 million adolescent girls who become pregnant 57 12 million of them were in therndeveloping world. An estimated 777000 girls aged below 15 give birth annually in developingrnregions and there are at least ten million 10 million unintended or unplanned pregnanciesrnreported UNFPA 2013. These pregnancies not only pose a health risk but they also pose arnsocial risk to adolescent girls concerning the discontinuation of their education and socialrnisolation within the communities they live in. The health impact of these unintendedrnpregnancies contributes to the rise in HIV incidence and prevalence among this age grouprnacross all economic divides UNAIDS 2021. Low socioeconomic status predisposesrnteenagers to sexual exploitation in a bid to meet their basic needs coupled with a low agencyrnto negotiate first sexual encounters and use of protection for safe sex UNAIDS 2021.rnTeenagers in low-income areas lack educational and employment opportunities Eastern Asiarnpresented the highest number of unplanned teenage births 95153 followed closely byrnWestern Africa 70423 with the least number occurring in Switzerland 4918 WHO 2016.rnThere are other factors leading to teenage pregnancy ranging from cultural pressure thatrnperpetuates retrogressive practices such as early marriages. The economic disparity contributesrngreatly to retrogressive cultural practices like early marriage 39 of girls in the leastrndeveloped countries are married before the age of 18 with 12 being married before the age of 15. Pregnancy is perceived as a social safety net or security in cases where teenagers lackrnopportunities and access to education and employment opportunities. In such settings earlyrnmarriage and motherhood are often viewed as the only viable option for teenagers to thrive andrnsurvive UNFPA 2018.rnLow levels of sexual reproductive health and rights information among teenagers contribute tornearly pregnancies even among teenagers who may wish to avoid getting pregnant. The lack ofrnadequate information and knowledge leaves these teenagers vulnerable to making poorlyrninformed choices regarding their sexuality. Access to contraceptives owing to healthcarernprovider biases also contributes to high levels of teenage pregnancies. Restrictive legal andrnpolicy framework across developing countries regarding the provision of contraceptives tornperceived underage and unmarried young girls largely contributes to the increase in teenagernpregnancy UNFPA 2018. Adolescence is a transitional age from childhood to adulthoodrnknown for the high rate of emotional and not rational decision-making by adolescents andrnteenagers. This is because young people in this transition phase lack sufficient agency andrnautonomy to make rational sound and positive decisions concerning their sexual andrnreproductive health. This lack of agency to make the right decisions and choices is a largerncontributor to the estimated ten million 10 million unintended pregnancies presented inrndeveloping regions. Sexual violence is a major contributing factor to teen pregnancy in Kenyarna third of girls one out of three reported that their first sexual encounter was not consensualrnrather it was coerced KNBS 2014. In addition one out of five girls reports being a survivorrnof sexual and other forms of gender-based violence statistics and facts that predispose teenagerngirls to early and unplanned pregnancies KNBS 2014.rnAcross the globe early pregnancies are accompanied by numerous health concerns mainlyrnmortality morbidity and poor health outcomes for children. Maternal mortality among teenage mothers aged between 15-49 presents astronomical figures accounting for 99 of maternalrndeaths. Other health complications faced by teenage mothers that often lead to their deathsrninclude eclampsia puerperal endometritis and systemic infections WHO 2016. Unsafernabortions related to unplanned pregnancies especially in the developing world where abortionrnlaws and regulations are stringent and do not offer free choice to teenage mothers contributernlargely to teenage maternal mortality with an estimated 3.9 million unsafe abortions reportedrnannually across the developing regions among young girls aged 15-19.rnWith the above context in mind the health and well-being of newborns as well as teenagernmothers cannot be overstated. Babies delivered by teenagers especially by mothers agedrnbelow the age of 20 face numerous challenges and complications including and not limitedrnto low birth weight and life-threatening neonatal health complications to mention but a few.rnIn cases where rapid repeat teen pregnancy is witnessed the long-term health risks for thernmothers and children have been documented to reinforce the risks of teenage pregnanciesrnUNFPA 2016. In the developing world social isolation of pregnant teenagers isrncommonplace in extreme cases pregnant teenagers are ostracised by society. These teens facernstigma discrimination and the impacts of rejection and violence meted on them by theirrnpartners parents and peers. Statistically teenage mothers are highly susceptible to sexual andrngender-based violence specifically intimate partner violence largely owing to their inabilityrnto negotiate for their sexual health and rights and well-being WHO 2016. Teenage pregnancyrnand childbearing lead to school drop-out even in countries like Kenya where the back-toschool policy for teenage mothers is institutionalise and social and economic constraints dornnot provide a conducive environment for these teenagers to continue their education. This fullyrnjeopardizes the girls future including their ability to secure meaningful employment and reachrntheir full potential NCPD 2021.
Publication Date: 15.Nov.2022