Get Inspired, Be Empowered Forums Access to Healthcare Reproductive Health & Rights Does our country have an effective system in place to address teenage pregnancies? Reply To: Does our country have an effective system in place to address teenage pregnancies?

Yash Tiwari
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Teenage pregnancies can place a tremendous burden on a family, especially in developing countries where the resources needed for safe childbirth can be hard to acquire. They can also lead to other negative consequences, including early marriage for young women and sexually transmitted infections. In recognition of how harmful teen pregnancies are to the health of mothers and their children, there has been a major push throughout the world to reduce rates of adolescent pregnancy and parenthood. Nearly half of all pregnancies in the developing world are among girls under the age of 18, and more than eight million adolescent women become pregnant every year. These statistics have had devastating effects on young women’s ability to complete their education, attain a decent standard of living, exercise rights, and contribute to community development.

Around the world, many communities and societies still consider teenage pregnancy to be taboo. Many governments are quick to ignore or even forcefully deny the existence of teenage pregnancies in their respective countries. There are many reasons for this denial – fear of adverse reactions from the public due to social stigma, religious beliefs, and perhaps even embarrassment of failed family planning policies in general.

Teenage pregnancy is a major public health concern and an important public policy issue in Singapore. Early pregnancies place adolescent mothers and their children at risk for negative physical, mental health, social, and educational consequences. Although teenage pregnancy is an issue in most countries, it is a particularly acute public health concern in developing nations. The consequences of early pregnancy include physical and psychological morbidity and mortality of mothers; disabling conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, and infectious diseases, for their babies; as well as high rates of educational failure, poverty, and incarceration for the fathers who may have accompanied them.

While the causes of teenage pregnancy are multi-determined, the implications at the individual level are profound: higher risks for the mother and child during pregnancy and a greater likelihood of prenatal mortality for both the child and mother. These challenges place a heavy burden on future health and development outcomes for these children. At the macro-level, adolescent pregnancy affects economic productivity due to higher rates of school dropout, lower educational attainment levels in later life, and reduced lifetime earning potential. Understanding the determinants at the individual level is important because it can help policy-makers and program designers to develop better interventions that can strengthen individual and community decision-making processes for delaying pregnancy. By identifying protective factors and risk factors, we can move further in the development of an effective system for addressing teenage pregnancies.