According to the world’s first comprehensive study done by the Lancet to establish the link between teenage pregnancy and child malnutrition in India, teen mothers are more likely to have stunted and underweight children than adult mothers. Teen pregnancy puts young mother’s life in danger while damaging the baby’s growth and development before and after birth.
India is home to one in five of adolescents and one in three stunted children in the world. This is corroborated by the study published by The Lancet Child and Adolescent Health; stunting and underweight prevalence is 11% points higher in children born to teenage girls than adult mothers.
Samuel Scott, study’s co-author from International Food Policy Research Institute who analyzed NFHS-4, states that the strongest links between adolescent pregnancy and child stunting were based on the factors such as mother’s education, socio–economic status and her weight. Compared to women who have first child as an adult, those who women have their child as an adolescent are less educated, poorer and more underweight. Other factors include access to health services during antenatal, delivery and early childhood periods; infant and young child feeding. All these indicators are worse for adolescent mothers compared to adult mothers. Teenage mothers were underweight and anemic. They were less likely to seek health services as per the IFPRI study. They also had lower education or no education, no decision making power and lived in poor households with no or poor sanitation.
In 2015-16 around 27% of girls got married before the age of 18 years and around 4.5 million girls were pregnant or had become mothers in 2015-16 according to NFHS-4.About 38% children are stunted, 35.7% are underweight and 21% are wasted as per the data. Globally adolescent pregnancy has led to over 156 million children under the age of 5 years to have stunted growth due to malnutrition. Every year millions of girls give birth too early forcing them to assume adult responsibilities and putting their health, education and economic prospects at risk.
Global data reveals that complications from pregnancy and childbirth are leading causes of death for adolescent girls between the ages of 15 and 19.
There is a male child bias in the societies that force girls and women to have multiple pregnancies risking their lives and spousal and parental pressures force them to bear the pain and ill effects silently.
The strategies that are carried out in other countries to prevent child marriage are unconditional cash transfers, cash transfers conditional on school enrolment or attendance, life skills curriculum and livelihood training etc. It is also essential to work with vulnerable adolescents, their parents and guardians, communities and local governance representatives and government bodies to address issues affecting girls well being.
It is important to work on adolescent life skills, which help girls developing their own self and reinforcing their commitment to education and learning. It also helps them access health, nutrition services and government’s social –protection schemes. The community and society needs to become child sensitive to address harmful gender and social norms. The adolescents should be offered livelihood and financial inclusion alternatives along with education. This will ensure they delay their age of marriage and also control over their bodies.
http:// qz.com/India/1621703/to solve-child-malnourishment-india-must-target-child –marriage
unfpa.org.http://www.unfpa.org/adolesecent-pregnnacy ,May 19,2019