Latin America ranks second in adolescent birth rate globally. Teenage pregnancy often leads to adverse outcomes, affecting the health of the mother and the child in various ways. We examined the association between sexual and reproductive literacy and teenage pregnancy in Latin America.
Design, Setting, Participants, Interventions, and Main Outcome Measures
We analyzed Demographic and Health Survey data for Honduras, the Dominican Republic, Colombia, Peru, and Guatemala. Adolescents were asked about their sexual and reproductive health and their experiences of teenage pregnancy. We measured single and recurrent pregnancy risks according to various classes of sexual and reproductive health literacy using prevalence ratios and adjusted for covariates. We estimated the burden of “preventable” single and recurrent teen pregnancy at various effectiveness levels of sexual and reproductive health literacy interventions.
The prevalence of teenage pregnancy for all 5 countries was 19.1%. A positive dose-response relationship was observed between sexual and reproductive health illiteracy and teenage pregnancy; an adolescent who reported complete sexual and reproductive health illiteracy showed 44% increased prevalence of experiencing pregnancy compared with an adolescent who reported accurate sexual and reproductive health literacy. Effective sexual and reproductive health interventions in all 5 countries was associated with 56,006 fewer single and 147,771 fewer recurrent teenage pregnancies.
Sexual and reproductive health illiteracy is a risk factor for teenage pregnancy. Complete sexual and reproductive health literacy is associated with substantial reduction in teenage pregnancy in Latin America. Comprehensive sexual and reproductive health education and counseling could potentially avert a significant number of teenage pregnancies in these settings.
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Published online: June 10, 2019
The authors indicate no conflicts of interest.
© 2019 North American Society for Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology. Published by Elsevier Inc.