Medical risks and realities of teenage pregnancy

Dr. Suvashish Roy

Adolescent pregnancy, also known as teenage pregnancy, refers to pregnancy between 15 and 19 years of age and is currently a global problem affecting mostly third-world countries, especially in the poor and marginalized societies. Globally, an estimated 15 to 17% of adolescent girls give birth before the age of 18.

Underage girls of our society generally face considerable pressure from their own family, community, and society, to get married early and become pregnant while they are still physically immature to bear a child inside them. Lack of education, dropping out of school, imbalance of power in the male dominating society and family, no access to contraception, parental poverty and pressure on girls to prove their fertility are the various contributing factors to the cause.

Teenage pregnancy remains a leading cause of maternal and child mortality, as the pregnant adolescents also face other health-related risks and long-term complications due to their immature bodies, as the babies born to a child or teenage mothers are also at greater risk.

teenage pregnancy

According to WHO (World Health Organization), “Early pregnancies among adolescents have major health consequences for adolescent mothers and their babies.” Pregnancy and childbirth complications are the leading causes of death among girls aged 15–19 globally, with low- and middle-income countries accounting for 99% of the global maternal deaths of women aged 15–49 years.

Adolescent mothers aged 10–19 years, usually face a higher risk of eclampsia, puerperal endometritis, and systemic infections than women aged 20–24 years. Additionally, around 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 the newborns, as well as the young mothers, as 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.”

Early childbearing can increase risks for the newborns, as well as the young mothers, as 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.”

Adolescent Pregnancy-related complications and risks:

Pregnancy-related complications and risks associated with adolescent motherhood are well documented, with consequences starting at childbirth and following both child and mother at long-term.

β€’ Higher risk of anaemia

β€’ Pregnancy-associated hypertension

β€’ Postpartum depression and mental trauma

β€’ Poor weight gain

β€’ Premature labour

β€’ Abruptio Placentae

β€’ Preeclampsia

β€’ Eclampsia

β€’ Obstetric fistula

β€’ Puerperal endometritis

β€’ Systemic infections

Adolescent Pregnancy-related complication to a newborn baby:

β€’ Higher neonatal mortality

β€’ Premature baby

β€’ Low birth weight

β€’ Mental retardation

β€’ Brain damage

β€’ Birth injuries

Bangladesh perspective:

According to UNFPA, Bangladesh has the highest adolescent pregnancy rate outside Sub-Saharan Africa, as around 113 out of 1000 teenage girls fall pregnant before the age of 19, here. However, according to recent sources, the prevalence of adolescent motherhood has declined to a slower pace from 1993 to 2014 (from 33.0% to 30.8%).

Lower spousal age gap and higher education were found to be associated with a lower likelihood of adolescent motherhood both among teenage girls and adult women, as the teenage girls in the poorest wealth quintile were more likely to experience adolescent motherhood than the richest wealth quintile.

Teenage girls who had no education were found to have 2.76 times higher odds of adolescent motherhood than their counterparts who had at least a secondary level of education. Concerning the time effect, the odds of adolescent motherhood among adult women were found to decline over time.

teenage pregnancy impact

In developed nations:

According to the Guttmacher Institute, a leading research and policy organization committed to advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) worldwide, the progression the nation has made over the last few decades in reducing teen pregnancy has been extraordinary. After years of increases in the 1970s and 1980s, the teen pregnancy rate peaked during the 1990s and has declined steadily since. Today, teen pregnancy, birth, and abortion rates have reached historic lows. What’s more, to follow is that teen pregnancy rates have fallen in all states of the USA and among all racial and ethnic groups.

Although the adolescent pregnancy rate has declined steadily in the last decade, it remains a major public health problem for adolescent mothers, their children, families, and society.

Successful strategies to prevent adolescent pregnancies include community programs to improve socio-economic conditions, social awareness, sexual behaviour education, contraceptive awareness, and delivery. Women must be able to make their own decisions about their bodies and futures while having access to proper healthcare education and services to avoid negative outcomes.

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