Teenage Pregnancy Burden

#Teenagers should be Listening to  School Bells Ring NOT Wedding Bells!!!!

By Alex Omari


Reproductive health concerns of adolescents have received increasing international attention in recent years. Early childbearing is linked to a number of undesirable health outcomes such as risk of death, pregnancy-related illnesses, abortion, infertility and exposure to sexually transmitted diseases including human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome . Female adolescents, compared to their male counterparts, face disproportionate health concerns due to teenage pregnancies.

Although sexual activity among the adolescents is widespread around the world, the determinants and consequences are likely to vary from one region to another. Early pregnancies are more pronounced in Sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries, most of which experience high levels of poverty. Due to the differences in socio-economic as well as cultural backgrounds, the results from a developing country like Kenya are likely to differ from those based on experiences of the richer, industrialized nations. For instance, given limited resources in rural areas, girls are forced to drop out of school or get married at an early age. In addition, inability to meet basic and personal material needs makes teenage girls susceptible to pre-marital sex. Such factors are likely to predispose them to unwanted pregnancies.

In Kenya, teenage pregnancy is not only as a reproductive health issue, but is also a multi facet issue as it directly affects the current and future socio-economic well-being of women. Early childbearing deny girls the opportunity to complete education and the ability to acquire human capital skills which are critical in the labour market. Given the absence of welfare benefits and child support, teenage pregnancies lead to increased dependency, and are likely to perpetuate poverty and low status of women. The relatively high levels of poverty and with the HIV/AIDS pandemic being toll order among the Kenyan youth, teenage pregnancies pose a serious policy problem.

Even though teenage pregnancies are viewed as one of the major hindrances to girl’s education in Kenya, there has been little effort in critically evaluating the underlying determinants. And by the fact that interest in fertility studies and policies has largely focused on adults, less attention has being accorded to adolescents.

Despite its implications, empirical studies on causes of teenage pregnancies in the context of
African countries are scanty. More often, teenage pregnancy is mentioned merely as one of the consequences of the high-risk sexual behavior