Thursday 12 December, 2019

Latin America, C'bean have 2nd highest teen pregnancy rates

Latin America and the Caribbean continues to be the region with the second highest adolescent pregnancy rate in the world.

That’s according to a joint report launched on Wednesday by the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO), the United Nations Children´s Fund (UNICEF), and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

The report found the majority of countries with the highest estimated adolescent fertility rates in LAC are in Central America, with the highest rates in Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Panama.

In the Caribbean, the Dominican Republic and Guyana have the highest rates; and in South America, Bolivia and Venezuela have the highest rates.

The report makes recommendations to reduce teenage pregnancy, which range from supporting multi-sectoral prevention programs geared toward those in the most vulnerable situations, to increasing access to contraception and sex education, among others. 

According to report “Accelerating progress toward the reduction of adolescent pregnancy in Latin America and the Caribbean,” the global adolescent pregnancy rate is estimated at 46 births per 1,000 girls, while adolescent pregnancy rates in Latin America and the Caribbean continue to be the second highest in the world, estimated at 66.5 births per 1,000 girls aged 15-19 years, second only to Sub-Saharan Africa.

The report noted that while the number of children per woman in Latin America and the Caribbean has declined over the past 30 years, adolescent fertility rates have dropped minimally during that period.

Additionally, the UNFPA notes that this is the only region where a rising trend has been observed in pregnancies among adolescents younger than 15 years.

An estimated 15 percent of all pregnancies occur annually in girls younger than 20 years in the region, and 2 million children are born to mothers between the ages of 15 and 19 years.

Carissa F. Etienne, PAHO Director said population groups living under conditions of vulnerability are those most affected.

“Teen pregnancy can have a profound effect on girls’ health over their life course,” she added.

“It not only hinders their psychosocial development, but is also linked to poor health outcomes and higher risks of maternal death. In addition, their children are at higher risk for poor health and social outcomes,” Etienne continued.

The report found that in the majority of countries adolescent girls with no education or only primary education are up to four times more likely to get pregnant than girls with secondary or higher education. Indigenous girls, especially in rural areas, have a higher probability of becoming pregnant at a young age.

 

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