In 2013, the National Population Commission disclosed that by 2015, the occurrence of teenage pregnancy in Nigeria would increase to over 60 million. In January 2017, Tribune Online Nigeria reported that teenage pregnancy had increased in recent times. In a country where teenage girls are being given out in marriage to men old enough to be their father’s there are a lot of teens getting pregnant. Few parents or guardians give their teenagers out in marriage on the grounds that they do not have the fortitude to provide food and educate them.
Speaking at the 2013 World Population Day in Lokoja, The Federal Commissioner of the NPC in Kogi State, Mohammed Akubo Aikoye explained that going by the Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS), adolescent fertility in Nigeria in 2008, topped other African countries with 121 live births per 1,000 births, stressing that this is relatively high when compared with other African countries that have considerably reduced adolescent fertility rates.
“Young people including adolescents in Nigeria constitute a significant proportion of the population and face unique challenges, which may compromise their health and developmental potentials if not addressed,” said ARFH president, Oladapo Ladipo
A lot of research have attributed the increase in teenage pregnancy in Nigeria to various factors. They include
- Absence of parental care and guidance
- Peer pressure,
- Ignorance on the part of the teenager on sex related issues
- Financial hardship
- Low level of education
- Cultural and religious beliefs
- Sexual assault and many more.
Some of the medical risks of teenage pregnancy include,
- Risk of not getting adequate prenatal care. Prenatal care is critical, especially in the first months of pregnancy.
- Pregnant teens have a higher risk of getting high blood pressure called pregnancy-induced hypertension than pregnant women in their 20s or 30s. They also have a higher risk of pre-eclampsia.
- Teens are at higher risk of having low-birth-weight babies. Premature babies are more likely to weigh less than they should.
- For teens who have sex during pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases such as chlamydia and HIV are a major concern.
- Pregnant teens may be at higher risk of postpartum depression, according to the CDC.
In a country where a lot of pregnant teens face a lot of stigmatization from the society, there are a lot of adverse effect of teenage pregnancy. Teens who think they can't tell their parents they're pregnant, feeling scared, isolated, and alone can be a real problem. In some cases this teens end up having unsafe abortion which is very common in Nigeria.
Abstinence from sex (oral, anal or vaginal) is the only behavior that is 100 percent effective at preventing teenage pregnancy. Abstinence prevents early pregnancy, parenthood and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
The National Campaign encourages parents to talk early and become"askable" parents (let kids know that they can ask you anything). The campaign reported that teens say their parents influence their decisions about sex, love and relationships the most; even more than the media or their peers. Starting a conversation about sex early and often may prove beneficial. This conversation should ideally begin well before a child's teen years.
It is important that as parents we have an open dialogue with our children both male and female to educate them about sex from a early age. Teenage pregnancy does not only affect the health of the child but also education of the pregnant teen and at the end of the day the society.