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EDUCATION

UNINTENTIONAL PREGNANCY AMONG TEENAGERS IN NIGERIA

UNINTENTIONAL PREGNANCY AMONG TEENAGERS IN NIGERIA

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UNINTENTIONAL PREGNANCY AMONG TEENAGERS IN NIGERIA

ABSTRACT

Globally, adolescent unintended pregnancy (both unplanned and undesirable) is a common public concern. pregnancies are also common in this population and are associated with increased risks of adverse outcomes for adolescent mothers and their infants.

Pregnancy and childbirth-related deaths are the leading cause of death among 15–19-year-old girls around the globe, with near-Unintended Pregnancy among Unmarried Adolescents and Young Women in Anambra State, South East Nigeria. Amobi Ilika1 and Igwegbe Anthony This study identified the characteristics and factors that influence unintended pregnancy among unmarried young women in rural south-east Nigeria.

The study included 136 unmarried adolescents with unintended pregnancies who attended a Christian hospital in Ozubulu, a rural community in south-east Nigeria, between January 1998 and December 2001. Using a semi-structured questionnaire and an in-depth interview, information was gathered. Over 75% of females had their first sexual encounter by the age of 19, and 69% had multiple partners.

INTRODUCTION

Pregnancy among unmarried adolescents and young women is a significant reproductive health concern, particularly in developing nations. Each year, more than 14 million adolescents give birth. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 4.4 million adolescent females seek abortions annually.

In Nigeria, nearly one million adolescent females become pregnant each year, with many of these pregnancies being unintended and unwanted. The health and social consequences of unwanted or unintended adolescent pregnancy have been described in great detail. These include an increased risk of maternal death and pregnancy and birth-related complications such as excessive bleeding, anemia, labour obstruction, stillbirth, and neonatal mortality. Education and employment termination, stigmatization, loss of self-esteem, and perpetuation of the poverty trap and cycle are among the socioeconomic consequences.

With the escalating HIV/ epidemic and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in sub-Saharan Africa, unintended teenage pregnancy among unmarried young women has become a disturbing public health issue, not only because it is a risk factor for HIV/AIDS transmission, but also because it poses a significant challenge to adolescent reproductive health and development.

Knowledge and comprehension of the factors and dynamics that characterise adolescent unintended pregnancies in the region should have a bearing on policy and programme development to address the challenges. These challenges include the provision of easily accessible, youth-friendly reproductive health services, sexuality education in schools, and advocacy with all stakeholders' parents, teachers, and church leaders to support programmes to reduce the problem of unwanted pregnancies among adolescents.

This study was conducted between January 1998 and December 2001 at a rural hospital in south-east Nigeria to identify the factors and characteristics of adolescents with unintended pregnancies. The implications for the reproductive health of adolescents in the region are discussed further. The research was conducted at the Christian Hospital in Ozubulu, the capital of the Ekwusigo Local Government Area in the Nigerian state of Anambra. Its catchment area encompasses more than five local government within Igboland.

The traditions and marriage patterns resemble those of the Igbo people of southeast Nigeria. The majority of the population is Christian. The region's customs and traditions prohibit reproduction before and outside of marriage. Girls are expected to maintain their virginity until marriage. At the time of marriage, if the husband confirms that the bride is a virgin, he will proclaim her to be sexually intact.

She had never engaged in sexual activity prior to her marriage. The young husband would give gifts to the girl for maintaining her virginity and to her mother for providing her with a decent education. In contrast, young males are not traditionally expected to be virgins prior to marriage. Despite the prevalence of monogamy and polygamy, there are other permissible marriage practises. A woman who has no children or only female children could, for example, marry a younger woman who will bore male children in order to preserve her husband's family name. This could be accomplished regardless of whether the husband is alive or deceased.

Even with the knowledge that he is highly unlikely to be the biological father of the children, an elderly man may marry a young woman in order for her to bore him sons if he did not have any sons from his previous marriage. Also, a man who believes he or his wife are infertile could marry an expectant young woman in order to own the child, as he is assured of the woman's fertility.

Parents of mentally disabled sons could also marry a wife for their sons. Sadly, however, the majority of the victims of these types of unions are unmarried young women with unintended pregnancies. Adoption is extremely uncommon, and only occurs among educated men residing in urban areas. Christian Hospital was selected for the research due to its location in the heart of Ozubulu town and its provision of reproductive health services.

The fact that the author works in a hospital is deemed advantageous for the acquisition of data on a sensitive reproductive health issue. During the three-year period (January 1998 to December 2001), one hundred fifty-five young unmarried women with unwanted and unintended pregnancies sought prenatal care at the hospital. This number may not be entirely accurate, as some of the unmarried expectant women and adolescents may have sought treatment at hospitals outside the area.

As soon as a teen's pregnancy is discovered, it is typical for their mothers to send them to reside with relatives in distant urban areas for antenatal care. They do this to conceal the pregnancy and avoid embarrassing the family. Others could have obtained an abortion elsewhere and would not pursue prenatal care. Potential participants were briefed on the nature of the interview, and their assent was obtained.

Participating in the research were 136 of the 155 young, unmarried pregnant women. Eleven of the remaining 19 women refused to assent, while the remaining eight attended the antenatal clinic once and were interviewed once but were not present for a second interview to crosscheck and validate the information provided during the first visit. Each woman was interviewed twice using the same questionnaire, once during the initial visit or contact and once during a subsequent visit. This was to validate and cross-reference previous data.

On their second visit, the researcher believed that the young expectant adolescents would have gained more trust in the doctor and health workers, enabling them to provide more accurate information about the pregnancy's circumstances. Using a semi-structured questionnaire, the participants' sexual behaviour and current pregnancy were elicited from them. All of the examinations took place in the hospital.

1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM

Unwanted and unintended pregnancies among Nigerian adolescents are a significant social and global issue. Even though the level of decadence in our society is high and the rate of adolescent pregnancy is alarming, illiteracy, poverty, superstitious beliefs, and traditions work against the of contraceptives to prevent unwanted pregnancies.

1.3 OBJECTIVE OF THE RESEARCH

The primary objective of the study is to assess the value of preventing unintended pregnancies among Nigerian adolescents.

Determine the primary causes of unintended adolescent pregnancy
Determine the most effective strategy for preventing unintended pregnancies among adolescents.
To investigate methods of preventing unintended pregnancies.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTION

To accomplish the purpose of the study, the following research questions are posed:

What are the advantages of preventing unintended pregnancies among Nigerian adolescents?
What measures are taken to counteract unintended pregnancy?
What methods exist for reducing unintended pregnancies?
What factors contribute to adolescent pregnancies in Nigeria?

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