Steady Decline in Teen Pregnancy in India for 20 Years: The Lancet

Her Health
3 min read
Steady Decline in Teen Pregnancy in India for 20 Years: The Lancet

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In an extensive study that aimed to examine trends and sociodemographic inequalities in the prevalence of adolescent motherhood in low and middle-income countries (LMIC), India fared relatively well.

The country experienced a steady decline in the prevalence of adolescent motherhood during the period from 1992-2015, and also saw the highest average annual decrease in teen pregnancy among all the regions evaluated.

However, several high-burden countries experienced little change in prevalence over time and 16 countries, such as Cambodia and the Philippines, had an increase in the prevalence of adolescent motherhood over time.


Important Findings

The authors of the study published in The Lancet Child and Adolescent Health, wrote, “Many of the countries in this study experienced either a slow rate of reduction or an increase in the prevalence of adolescent motherhood during the study period, and sociodemographic inequalities within countries persist.”

Take a look at some important observations:

Adolescent birth rate is an indicator for the sexual and reproductive health target in the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The authors note that complications of childbirth and unsafe abortion are a leading cause of death among women worldwide.

According to WHO, an estimated 21 million young women aged 15–19 years in low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs) become pregnant every year, and about 12 million of these young women give birth.

Adolescent mothers have an increased risk of adverse health outcomes including obstetric complications, and children of adolescent mothers have an increased risk of infant and child mortality, preterm birth, anthropometric failure, anaemia, and infectious disease.

M. Mamun Huda, a study co-author from the University of Queensland Institute for Social Science Research, was quoted as saying, “Young women living in the most disadvantageous conditions, those who are poorest, have no education and live in rural locations, have the highest rates of adolescent motherhood. Not only do these groups have the highest prevalence, but they also have elevated risk of poor maternal and child health outcomes as well as wider social and economic burdens on family, community, and country.”


What Needs to Be Done?

Increased contraception use among adolescents can greatly contribute to reducing adolescent pregnancy. However, modern contraceptive use remains low among adolescents, along with with the unmet need for family planning.

“Interventions that have already been proven effective, such as school-based sexual education programmes, adolescent-friendly reproductive health services, and cash transfer programmes, should be implemented as a priority. Disadvantaged groups identified in this study (ie, the poorest, those with no education, and those in a rural residence) where the prevalence of adolescent motherhood was more likely to be concentrated, should be targeted for the interventions,” wrote the authors.

Higher-level developments that promote national-level policies for economic growth, increased expenditure on education, decreased income inequality, and improved gender equality can also contribute to reducing adolescent childbearing.

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Topics:  Pregnancy   Motherhood   Women's Health 

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