Adolescent Pregnancy And Its Implications Among Ethnic Groups In Kenya.
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Adolescent pregnancy in Kenya is among the highest in the world. The adolescent fertility rate in the 15-19 age group rose from 141/1000 in 1962 to 168/1000 in 1977. The rate of those aged 20-24 rose from 304/1000 to 342/1000 between 1962 and 1979, the highest in Africa. Recent studies have shown that youth aged 10-20 years are responsible for about 41% of all births. Sepsis, postpartum hemorrhage, toxemia and eclampsia, anemia, and septic abortion were major causes of maternal morbidity and mortality involving mostly young, unmarried, unemployed, nulliparous, and primiparous women. A review of 1424 abortions at Kenyatta Hospital, Nairobi between January 1st 1978 to June 30, 1978, revealed that 16% of abortion cases were suspected to be adolescent single girls. There were 20 maternal deaths/1000 abortion admissions from complications of septic abortion. 53% of the 14-24 patients were aged 14-20 years, and 36.6% were single. Another study included 567 primigravida patients under 20 years of age who delivered at Kenyatta Hospital in 1978. 265 of them were under 16 years of age. A study of 109 pregnant dropouts as well as those in school found that most of them were of low income families who became pregnant between the ages of 15 and 18 years. 43.1% of these girls had not been educated about contraceptives. In a sample of 166 schools with about 20,000 school girls in secondary schools and 9000 in primary schools in the years 1985-87 the dropout rate in 1987 was 8.61/100 compared with 12.13 in 1986 and 10.24 in 1985. Primary school dropout rates were lower than those of secondary schools in 1985 and 1987, but above in 1986. A recent report on the sexual practices of 10,340 mostly young people indicated that 64.8% were educated about sex by friends and only 8.3% by parents. With rampant prostitution and the apparent breakdown of traditional sexual mores even among ethnic groups and condom use of only 27%, the risk of the spread of AIDS and other sexually transmitted disease is substantial.