Who Are the Pregnant Adolescents in the Poorest State Capital of Brazil?

Authors



Keila R. O. Gomes, Departamento de Enfermagem, Centro de Ciências da Saúde, Universidade Federal do Piauí, CEP-64049-550, Teresina, PI, Brazil. E-mail: keila@ufpi.edu.br

Abstract

ABSTRACT Objective: This study determines which adolescent girls are becoming pregnant.

Design: Cross-sectional study.

Sample: Pregnant or puerpera adolescents in Teresina, Brazil (278), aged 15–19 years.

Measurements: Comparisons were made between the older and younger age groups of the Teresina sample and between the socioeconomic and demographic characteristics of the Teresina sample and ever-pregnant adolescents from the 1996 Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) sample. Descriptive analyses and Pearson's chi-square tests were performed.

Results: Compared with the 1996 DHS sample, there has been a social improvement manifested by a higher proportion attending school and a lower proportion of adolescent workers in the 2006 Teresina sample. In the 2006 sample, 60.2% of those attending school were below their grade for age level. The principal reason for school abandonment 10 years ago was marriage (24.4%) and that among the 2006 Teresina sample was pregnancy (44.9%). Girls who were 15–17 years old in the 2006 sample experienced menarche and sexual debut earlier than those who were 18–19 years old in the same sample.

Conclusions: Adolescent pregnancies are likely to have an unfavorable long-term impact on adolescent mothers' lifestyle, even with some improvement since 1996. Effective programs for adolescent pregnancy prevention are needed to reduce the possibility of continuance of these trends for another 10 or more years in the future.

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