A recent research has issued grim warnings about the wellbeing of thousands of girls in Uganda, as repeat adolescent births fail to drop in nearly three decades.
A repeat adolescent birth is the second or more pregnancy ending in a live birth before the age of 20 years. According to a study conducted by Dr Dinah Amongin, a THRiVE (Training of Health Researchers into Vocational Excellence) PhD scholar, three in every 10 (31%) adolescent girls aged 15-19 have begun child bearing in eastern Uganda and over half of these will go on to have second births before 20 years.
Her study, 'Understanding trends and trajectories of repeat adolescent birth in Uganda' sought the motivators and circumstances for repeat adolescent births in the eastern districts of Soroti and Katakwi.
She will disseminate the findings of her study at a press conference to be held on September 16 2021 at Makerere University's College of Health Sciences.
Following an analysis of retrospective data from the Uganda Demographic and Health Surveys (UDHS) of 1988, 1995, 2000, 2006, 2011 and 2016, Dr Amongin found that among women aged 20-24 years for whom the first birth occurred before the age of 18 years, the percentage reporting a repeat birth before 20 years has remained almost stable for 28 years
(58.9% in 1988/1989, 55.6% in 2016).
This is despite the fact that teenage pregnancy rates have fallen from 41.7% in 1988 to 28.4% in 2016. The statistics imply that teen mothers' subsequent births account for one out of five teen births in Uganda.
Moreover, teen mothers with rapid subsequent births have more births than teen mothers who postpone the birth of another child.
"Girls who have had a repeat adolescent birth are likely to have up to seven children in life compared to those who have had one child who may have four children in life and those with no birth before 18 who have an average of five," Dr Amongin says.
Consequently, girls who have a second birth before 20 years are at a greater risk of school discontinuation, greater likelihood of poverty and impaired health for the baby.
Dr. Amongin identifies extreme house- hold poverty characterized by peasantry, alcohol abuse and large families as an overarching predictor for the decisions that resulted in the first and subsequently repeat adolescent birth.
She suggests that government, healthcare providers and communities alleviate household poverty and domestic violence; implement a school continuation policy and strengthen legislation against early marriage as some of the prevention measures.