Teen pregnancy is a major global health issue with often dire consequences especially in poor countries such as Haiti. Approximately 16 million girls age 15-19 and 2.5 million girls under age 15 give birth each year. Complications during pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death for 15-19-year-old girls globally. Birth rates differ in different regions and tend to be much higher in poorer regions:
- 115 per 1000 in West Africa
- 64 per 1000 in Latin America and Caribbean
- 45 births per 1000 in South East Asia
- 17.4 per 1,000 in the US
Rates tend to be higher in rural then in urban populations. In Haiti the rates of births to teen mothers are very high
especially in rural areas with reported rates as high as 100 per 1,000. 7-14% of pregnant women seen in facilities in Haiti are less than 19 years of age with higher rates seen with lower education, lower economic status and in rural or remote areas.
Teen pregnancies are associated with poor health consequences: Adolescent mothers are at higher risks of complications such as eclampsia, infections, and hemorrhage. Babies born to adolescent mothers are at greater risk for prematurity, low birth weight and neonatal complications. Teen pregnancies are also associated with poor economic and social consequences. With higher school dropout, lower education attainment teen mothers have fewer skills and opportunities for employment perpetuating the vicious cycle of poverty. Children of teen mothers are also more likely to live 14.7% of the nearly 2000 pregnant women seen in the prenatal clinics of FHHH in the past 8 months were 12-18 years of age. Almost 5% of the 4,600 teen girls seen in our clinics were pregnant. Only 35% of teen mothers delivered assisted by a healthcare professional, most delivered at home with higher risks of poor outcomes. The rates of maternal and neonatal deaths as well as low birthweight and complications were higher with teen mothers than with older moms.
Due to these factors, FHHH started a teen pregnancy program. FHHH is committed to improving those staggering statistics and poor outcomes. We offer free prenatal care including sonogram, laboratory tests, and medications to pregnant teens. We offer screening for and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) including HIV. Pregnant teens are educated on the need for delivering at a health facility to reduce the rates of home deliveries. They receive education on well baby care, need for exclusive breast feeding, need for postnatal care and follow up.
Raising girls’ awareness of their sexual and reproductive health and rights, connecting them with health services, encouraging them to continue with their education will help teens take better control of their future and become more productive members of their communities. Please join us in our journey and visit our website at www.fhhh.org