Maternal awareness of reproductive health practices and its impact on adolescent pregnancy: a study of mothers in Dagoretti Community, Nairobi.
Kabue, Priscillah Njeri
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Unchecked high rate of pregnancy among adolescents is a major concern in the developing countries due to associated risks that include obstructed labour, abortion and high maternal morbidity and mortality. Through appropriate knowledge of reproductive health, adolescents develop correct perception that enable them to make responsible and informed choices regarding sex. Adolescents in the developing world have little knowledge of reproductive health yet there is considerable resistance to teaching reproductive health in school due to prevailing parental and religious opposition. Parents need to counsel adolescents on reproductive health in order to reduce adolescent pregnancy. Studies in the field of adolescent fertility have tended to focus on adolescents, not parents, yet parents play an important role in the upbringing of their children. Therefore, there is need to review approach of counselling adolescents. In view of this a cross-sectional study was conducted on mothers in Dagoretti, a peri-urban area of Nairobi City, with the aim of establishing maternal awareness of reproductive health practices, maternal counselling of adolescent on reproductive health issues and the extent of maternal influence on the prevention of adolescent pregnancy. Further, the study sought to find whether mothers had adequate knowledge, right attitudes and communication skills to guide and counsel adolescent girls. The study population was composed of women above 20 years with at least one child. Both structured interviews and Focus Group discussions were used to collect data. A total of 478 women responded to the structured questionnaire and 3 Focus Group discussions were held. - . Based on knowledge of family planning, fertility and sexually transmitted infections, 70% of the respondents were considered knowledgeable on reproductive health practices. Knowledge on reproductive health was positively associated with age of the respondents ci = 21.9, p = 0.038) and level of education (X2 =33.8 p = 0.0001). xii Forty-four point four percent of the respondents reported being a guardian or a mother of pregnant adolescent. Adolescent pregnancy in a home was negatively associated with respondents' educational level (X2 =11.4 P = .0.009) and religion (X2 =18.9 P = 0.018) but positively associated with number of children (X2 =13.9 p = 0.007). Majority of the mothers 59.9% (286) counselled adolescent girls who were not related to them while only 30.8% of the 240 respondents who had adolescent daughters counselled them. Counselling own adolescent daughter was positively associated with respondents' age (l =77.9 p = 0.001) also educational level (X2 =21.1 P = 0.0001) but negatively associated with number of children (X2 = 64.3 P = 0.0001). Respondents' counselling of adolescents not related to them was negatively associated with number of children (X2 = 15.3 P = 0.004) and positively associated with occupation (X2 =1L6 P = 0.021). However, maternal knowledge of reproductive health practices was not significant associated with counselling of adolescents (X: = 0.04 P = 0.8) or presence of adolescent pregnancy (X2 = 3.0 p = 0.08). The study also shows that 99.2% of the respondents do not object to teaching of reproductive health practices in schools, though 68.5% of the mothers disapprove adolescent access to family planning services claiming that this would encourage immorality and cause infertility among adolescents. The study concludes that knowledge of reproductive health practices increases with the level of education of the mother and number of children. Knowledge of reproductive health of the mother has no influence on adolescent pregnancy and adolescent child counselling. This suggests that other factors such as education and counselling skills were required among the respondents to offer guidance and counselling. This information is useful for polic makers in developing educational strategies which will empower mothers with education and counselling skills to enable them counsel adolescent girls effectively thus reducing adolescent pregnancy.
- MST-Zoological Sciences