Teenage pregnancy is a global health problem and an issue we usually do not look at in our INTEGHRAL lab. But, we included some measures on pregnancy in one of our cross-sectional surveys of youth in Kampala. The findings were quite surprising.
The Key Messages from our Paper:
Approximately 30% of sexually active girls (ages 12–18) living in the slums of Kampala, Uganda reported a previous pregnancy.
In the multivariable analysis, consuming alcohol during sex was the only statistically significant correlate with pregnancy.
Intervention programs are urgently warranted to delay pregnancy and address correlates of pregnancy, such as alcohol use, for this population, as these youth and adolescents face dire environmental and psychosocial adversities.
While there are many teenage pregnancy campaigns and interventions in Uganda and elsewhere, they typically do not factor in alcohol use. Historically, it was less common for young girls to drink, but circumstances and social norms have changed.
So to make progress in sexual and reproductive health for girls and young women, we need to factor in that many of the young girls drink. And, drinking alcohol changes risk behaviors and outcomes for sexually transmitted infections as well as pregnancies.
Leaving out girls in alcohol prevention strategies no longer make sense. In fact, we need to examine their unique needs and strategies that are culturally appropriate to mitigate social norms, peer pressure and poverty to improve their health and well-being.
Read the open access paper published in the African Health Sciences Journal here