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Description of the Problem

  • Teen pregnancy, commonly defined as pregnancy in a girl less than 18 or 19 years of age, is often a target of public health efforts because of the far-reaching economic, social and health effects.1
    • A girl who becomes pregnant attends 2.5 less years of school, and each additional child translates into 1 less year of education.2
    • Girls who get pregnant before age 18 are more likely to experience violence within marriage or a partnership than girls who postpone child-bearing.1
    • Babies born to adolescent mothers have a higher incidence of perinatal complications (like asphyxia and birth trauma) and the mortality rate is 5%, compared to 1% in adult mothers.3,4
    • Adolescent pregnancy increases the risk of adverse outcomes including maternal death, postpartum hemorrhage, puerperal endometritis, operative vaginal delivery, and episiotomy. In developing countries, complications from pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death in young women aged 15 to 19.4,5
  • Ecuador has, depending on what data is referenced, the highest or second highest rate of adolescent pregnancy in South America, with 21% of girls giving birth before the age of 18 (see Figure 1).1,6
  • Despite a substantial increase in use of contraceptives (from 57% in 1994 to 73% in 2004),” adolescent fertility rates throughout Ecuador, and Latin America overall, have actually increased.7