Pregnancy in adolescence leads to “poverty trap”, says UN report

Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore says more integrated international strategy needed to combat issue

According to the United Nations Population Fund, Nicaragua has one of the highest rates of teenage pregnancy in Latin America where between 13,000 and 16,000 adolescents give birth every year, counting for about 16 per cent of the total births in the country. Photograph: Oswaldo Rivas/Reuters

According to the United Nations Population Fund, Nicaragua has one of the highest rates of teenage pregnancy in Latin America where between 13,000 and 16,000 adolescents give birth every year, counting for about 16 per cent of the total births in the country. Photograph: Oswaldo Rivas/Reuters

Thu, Oct 31, 2013, 01:01


Adolescent pregnancy “traps girls in a lifetime of poverty, exclusion, and powerlessness”, according to a major new report on the matter.

The issue is the focus of The State of World Population 2013 report, which was published by the United Nations Population Fund, and launched yesterday by Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore in Dublin.

This year’s instalment of the annual report is called Motherhood in Childhood: Facing the Challenge of Adolescent Pregnancy.

The issue of education is key throughout the report, which also finds that impoverished, poorly educated, and rural girls are “more likely to become pregnant” than their wealthier, urban, educated counterparts in “every region” of the world.

Decline in births
Latest HSE figures show the number of births to teenagers in Ireland has declined from 3,087 in 2001 to 1,639 in 2012, representing a decrease of 47 per cent. Speaking at the launch, Mr Gilmore said Ireland’s example on the matter can be followed globally.

“The partnerships set up between the health, education and voluntary sectors to address these issues in Ireland have been instrumental in making progress. I believe there are a number of lessons we can draw from Ireland’s experience at home and overseas that can inform global best practice to address adolescent pregnancy and more broadly to empower women and girls.

“First of all, we must have reliable data disaggregated by age and gender. We must involve the widest possible range of partners: governments, parliaments, communities, the private sector, the media and civil society – and we must not fail to include men and boys.

“I am absolutely convinced that education is the most effective approach we can take to address adolescent pregnancy effectively in an empowering and sustainable way. The evidence is indisputable.”

Pregnancy has “major consequences” for girls’ health, according to the report, as complications are more likely if girls become pregnant too soon after reaching puberty.

About 70,000 adolescents in the developing world die annually of causes relating to pregnancy and childbirth.

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