Background: Young age at pregnancy carries significant risk for the mother and baby, adding to the burden of maternal and child mortality.
Aims & Objective: (1) To study the socio-demographic factors influencing adolescent pregnancy; (2) To take an account of the awareness among women about the right age for child-bearing.
Materials and Methods: A hospital-based study was undertaken during September to December 2013 among mothers attending the antenatal clinic, in Mc Gann Hospital, Shimoga. The study group comprised of 214 mothers aged 15–18 years. Data was collected about the socio-demographic variables, tabulated on Microsoft Excel spreadsheet and analysed using EpiInfo application.
Results: All women were married. The mean age at marriage was 17.4 years, and mean interval between marriage and conception was 1 year. All were primigravids. 185 (86%) women were 18 years old and 29 (14%) were 17 years old. 15 (7%) women were married at 16 years, 92 (43%) at 17 years and 107 (50%) at 18 years. Non-consanguineous marriages were 122 (57%), while 92 (43%) were consanguineous. 172 (80%) women were Hindu, 34 (16%) were Muslim and 8 (4%) were Christian. 107 (51%) women belonged to socio-economic Class V, 22 (10%) to Class IV, and 37 (18%), 24 (11%) and 21 (10%) to classes III, II and I respectively. 75 (35%) women discontinued education after 10th standard and 100 (47%) before 10th standard. 39 (18%) studied up to the Pre-University course. Reasons cited were marriage by 41 (19%), poverty by 62 (29%) and 111 (52%) for disinterest. Among the husbands, 4 (2%) had never been to a school, 131 (61%) studied up to 9th standard, 60 (28%) quit after 10th standard and 19 (9%) studied beyond 10th standard, which included 4 graduates. 77 (36%) women were of first birth order of their mothers, while 80 (37%) of birth order 2. Anemia was detected in 128 (60%), 7 had bronchial asthma and 3 had congenital cardiac valve diseases. 17-19 years was the common age at pregnancy in the community and families of 188 (88%) women. 26 (12%) women said that the common age at first pregnancy was above 20 years in their community. 60 (28%) were forced into wedlock. 17 (8%) admitted were facing domestic pressure. 167 (78%) preferred to have the first child delivered before 19 years, 26 (12%) said after 20 years of age and 21 (10%) after 22 years. 126 (59%) women said early pregnancy is good, 56 (26%) took the opposite stand and 31 (15%) women were indifferent. 205 (96%) women were aware about contraception, but practice was zero. None had received sex education.
Conclusion: Observations throw light on the fact that knowledge about the risks involved in adolescent pregnancy is lacking among the adolescent mothers. Contraception is not being practised. Also, the average educated and adequately aware women, were falling preys to poverty, traditions and domestic pressure, when it came to deciding the right age for child-bearing.
Pregnancy in adolescence; teen pregnancy; socio-demographic factors in adolescent pregnancy