Adolescent reproductive health: Risk of early pregnancy
According to the World Health Organization (WHO,) there are at least 777,000 girls under the age of 15 who give birth every year. Most of these girls belong to low- and middle-income countries, including the Philippines. These numbers reflect the importance of teaching adolescent reproductive health in order to reduce the number of unplanned births to underage parents.
Each year, around 21 million girls worldwide aged 15-19 years in developing countries become pregnant. Of these, 12 million of them will give birth. In the Philippines, early pregnancy affects 5.99% of Filipina girls. According to the Save the Children’ Global Childhood Report of 2019, the Philippines has the second highest rate in Southeast Asia when it comes to teenage pregnancies.
538 babies on average are born every day to Filipina teenage mothers, according to the Philippine Statistical Authority of 2017. Babies born to adolescent mothers totaled 196,478, while babies sired by adolescent fathers were at 52,342.
Every year, there are also 3.9 million girls, ages 15 to 19 years worldwide who undergo unsafe abortions. These can lead to the death of the mother, especially without proper medical intervention.
Effects of teenage pregnancy
An adolescent’s body is not yet fully mature to bear a child, so pregnancy risks are slightly higher than that of someone becoming pregnant in their mid-20s. The mother may opt for prenatal care, but sometimes, her health is not strong enough to carry the baby to full term.
Certain risks involved in adolescent reproductive health during pregnancy, labor, and delivery include:
- Premature birth, which could lead to low birth weight of the baby
- Pregnancy-induced hypertension
- Higher risk of infant death
- Higher risk of cephalopelvic disproportion
Aside from the physical toll that a teenage pregnancy can inflict, their mental health is also strongly affected. Since most adolescents are ill prepared for the complexity of childbirth and childrearing, relationships and finances often take a hit, which leads to more stress. Stress can affect the mother, father, and the child. Finishing school can also become challenging as newborns require undivided attention and care.