A study on pregnant adolescents residing in a government home: common characteristics and their views on the pregnancy
Background: Adolescent pregnancy has emerged to be a significant public health and social issue in Malaysia as its prevalence is increasing in our population.
Objectives: This study aimed to identify the common characteristics of pregnant adolescents residing in a government shelter home. Their reasons for pregnancy, sources of information on contraception, and views on abortion and future care of the baby were explored.
Methods: A cross-sectional study was performed on 26 universally sampled pregnant adolescents in the centre. The adolescents responded to a set of self-administered questionnaire on their socio-demographic profiles, reasons of their pregnancy, contraception and future plans including abortion as well as care of the newborn.
Results: Almost all (92%) of the adolescents were unmarried. Majority of them were in late adolescence, age between 16 to 19 years (73.1%), from urban areas (73.1%) and of low income families (53.8%). There were 69.3% of the adolescents who were school dropouts. The reasons for pregnancy were consensual sexual activity (63.0%), coercion by boyfriend (18.5%), and rape (11.5%). The main sources of information on contraception were friends (50%), partners (50%) and
the internet or mass media (42.3%). 54% had considered abortion earlier, but majority (92.0%) disagreed that abortion should be legalised in Malaysia. Most of the adolescents planned to parent their child with or without help from significant others and only 42.3% planned to relinquish their child for adoption.
Conclusion: To curb teenage pregnancy-related problems, efforts on educating the adolescents about sexual reproductive health and assertive communication skills should be implemented, especially to the late adolescents, school dropouts and those from poor urban families. Parenthood support may be necessary to the pregnant adolescents who opted to care for their own child.
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