Solutions to Decrease Teenage Pregnancy Issue in Vietnam
These days, teenage pregnancy is a social problem and an important public health issue in Vietnam. According to Vietnam maternal and child health care apartment, the percentage of teenagers who have got pregnant has slightly increased over the period: in 2011: 3.1%; in 2012: 3.2% (Mai, 2014). Moreover, it leads to many serious results including abortion. In 2011, abortion rates in teen mothers was quite high, at 2.4% in total pregnant women then this figure marginally declined to 2.3% in 2012 (Mai, 2014). Teenage pregnancy results from numerous risk factors and also brings a variety of effects including physical and mental ones (Kirby, Lepore & Ryan, 2005). However, a majority of teenagers as well as their parents are totally not aware of this dangerous phenomenon. Therefore, this paper, based on secondary data, will provide information on the risk factors, the effects and possibly solutions to teenage pregnancy in Vietnam.
Risk factors of teenage pregnancy
Numerous advanced research has been carried to find out many main factors which are associated with teenage pregnancy. First of all, a clear link has been established between social backgrounds and early childbearing. It is suggested that young women from socially disadvantaged family backgrounds such as poverty, early motherhood and low parental education are at higher risk of being pregnant in their teen years of age (Shapiro, & Miller, 1998; as cited in Woodward, Fergusson & Horwood, 2001). In addition, family contributed a major role in the unintended pregnancy among young women. For example, teenagers who live far away from their home or have problematic relationships with their parents or go through a marital breakdown before are more likely to become mothers at a very young age. The children of teenage parents also tend to become teen parents themselves (Mezey et al., 2015) Besides, parents nowadays are still unwilling to talk openly about sex, especially sexual behaviors and contraception although it is necessary for their kids (Kanku & Mash, 2010). Therefore, teenagers are lack of accurate background knowledge about sex and unable to protect themselves from early pregnancy which is an alarming problem around the world.
Second, a number of individual factors increase the possibility of teenage pregnancy and parenthood. Early-maturing girls have a tendency to get pregnant at their teen years than others. Aggressive or antisocial young women are also at a higher risk of teenage pregnancy. Likewise, there is a strong link established between educational achievement and early parenthood. In specific, girls who performed poorly in schools or who had lower educational motivations and abilities are likely to become pregnant early (Woodward, Fergusson & Horwood, 2001). Moreover, there is considerable evidence that rates of pregnancy at young ages are also related to drug users, with findings of a large number of teenagers who become early mothers had a prior history of overusing drugs as well as alcohol.
Effects of teenage pregnancy
Teenage pregnancy can bring many serious problems to teen mothers. When they know they are pregnant, there are two options for them to choose. If they choose abortion, it can cause many problems such as infection, perforation of the uterus and the most serious problem is infertility which means that they cannot get pregnant in the future. If they decide to marry and give birth, they will have to stop studying in high schools, universities or colleges. Teen mothers are less likely to finish their study than those who avoid being pregnant during their school years (Socolov et al., 2017). As a consequence, they cannot find a suitable job to earn money and support their children. It is possibly that teen mothers will have to deal with financial problems and domestic violence. Therefore, they easily suffer from stress or even depression which is harmful to their health and their babies. Moreover, when women give birth in their teen years of age, they are at risk of giving birth prematurely (Beirne, 2017). Teenagers, especially those under 15 years old are vulnerable to anemia which is also called low blood iron. Anemia can make the mothers feel tired or cause some complications that affect the development of the babies. During pregnant period and laboring, complications is the second most popular cause of death in teenagers 15-19 years old (Socolov et al., 2017). Another effect of teenage pregnancy is related to the physical health of the children along with their development in the future. A preemie, who is born before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy will miss out on an important growth taking place in the final weeks of pregnancy. As a result, the children may become underweight and have small head sizes. Those babies are likely to suffer from several problems that can affect their brain and their organs (Beirne, 2017).
Besides, the children who were born to these teen mothers also experience 2.5 times higher risk of losing their lives than those born to women aged between 20 and 24 (Socolov et al., 2017). On the other hand, owing to uncertainty of the future and lack of supports during pregnancy, teens may take up unhealthy habits, such as drinking and smoking which is really harmful to their health and their baby. Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) – an incurable syndrome, is more likely to affect babies of teen moms and this syndrome is associated with drinking alcohol during pregnancy. It will slow down physical growth of the babies before and after birth (Sharma, 2012). Sometimes, problems during pregnancy and infancy are not identified, but these can come up later. Pre-term children can have difficulties in learning, thinking, solving problems and their development can be much slower than normal ones.
Solutions to teenage pregnancy
There are much that can be done to protect teenagers from pregnancy. Firstly, schools as well as universities should provide adequate sexuality education including contraception, sexual abuse and so on by making use of the media, especially the Internet. This solution can help students have more useful information about protecting themselves. It also can encourage responsible behaviors, increase the use of contraception. Health service providers have sought to provide birth control services to young people, seeing use of contraceptives as potentially the most successful intervention in pregnancy prevention (Howard, 2014). Therefore, teenagers can effectively prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) during their teenage years when most young people become sexually curious.
Secondly, Vietnam government should plan different youth development programs to support teenagers because research has showed that youth development programs can reduce sexual risk behaviors and teenage pregnancy (Kirby, 1999). These programs assist teenagers to set their goals, finish study and plan their futures. As Pagliaro & Klindera (1999) say, “Youth development seldom tackles isolated problems—such as sexual risk behaviors—but focuses instead on providing holistic support and opportunities for young people. Youth development is a strategy that attempts to meet the needs young people themselves identify: to have life skills, to be cared for and safe, to be valued and useful, and to be spiritually grounded. It meets these needs by building on young people’s capacities, assisting them to cultivate their own talents and to increase their feelings of self-worth, and easing their transition to adulthood”.
Thirdly, making contraception available to teenagers is another solution to teenage pregnancy. Confidential, affordable and accessible contraceptive services may ensure that teens will have what they need to protect themselves. As a result, there could be a decline in the number of unintended pregnancy cases as well as infection with HIV ones. Final thing that we can do to protect teenagers is supporting them. Society need to be concern about family communication about sex. Parents should speak about sexual behaviors openly to provide their kids with appropriate information about it. Moreover, educational opportunities, health education about parenting skills and other supports should be well-prepared for teens while pregnant and after birth so they can have a better life.
This above research has shown that teenage pregnancy is an alarming issue which needs to be controlled because it could bring tragic affects to not only mental but also physical health of the mothers and the babies. To solve this problem, government, school and family play significantly important roles. Therefore, a considerable result may come from the simplest action. Vietnam would be a dream place where teenagers can grow up safely and peacefully on condition that it has lower teenage pregnancy. Surely, there is a long list to do before achieving the goal but it will bring immense benefits for all residents.
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