Adolescent pregnancy and associated factors in South African youth
Background: Adolescent pregnancy, occurring in girls aged 10–19 years, remains a serious health and social problem worldwide, and has been associated with numerous risk factors evident in the young people’s family, peer, school, and neighbourhood contexts.
Objective: To assess the prevalence of adolescent pregnancy and associated factors in the South African context, as part of a population-based household survey that formed part of an evaluation of the impact of loveLife, South Africa’s national HIV prevention campaign for young people.
Methods: A cross-sectional population-based household survey was conducted using a multi-stage stratified cluster sampling approach. The total sample included 3123 participants, aged 18-24, 54.6% men and 45.4% women, from four of nine provinces in South Africa (Eastern Cape, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga).
Results: Among female youth 19.2% said that they had an adolescent pregnancy, while 5.8% of male youth indicated that they had impregnated a girl when they were an adolescent (12-19 years), 16.2% of the women indicated that they ever had an unwanted pregnancy and 6.7% had ever terminated a pregnancy. In multivariable analysis among women it was found that being employed or unemployed, greater poverty, having higher sexually permissive attitudes and scoring higher on the contraceptive or the condom use index was associated with adolescent pregnancy, and among men wanting the pregnancy and having a sense of the future were associated with adolescent pregnancy.
Conclusion: Adolescent pregnancy was found to be high in this sample of South African youth. Multiple factors contributing to adolescent pregnancy have been identified which can be used in targeting young people on the prevention of adolescent pregnancy.
Key words: Adolescent pregnancy; youth between 18-24 years, loveLife youth programme exposure, South Africa