Thursday, July 9, 2020

Children born to teenage mothers┬áat risk of lifelong disabilities – Report

Teenage childbearing across Botswana is reported to be associated with increased risks of adverse pregnancy outcomes on children, fresh data from a report entitled “Botswana’s Children in brief: Key National Indicators of Well-Being 2018″ shows.

The key findings of the study which was conducted in Botswana also states that “pregnant teens aged 15 to 19 are less likely to get prenatal care,” adding that children born to these teenagers are more likely to have low birth weight.Low birth weight infants, defined as less than 2.64 kilograms, are also said to be at a higher risk for infant death andlifelong disabilities such as deafness or blindness.

The report also revealed that Botswana recorded a surge in the number of infants born with low birth weight in 201, and that teenagers in this group are “more likely to smoke as compared to pregnant women aged 20 years or older.”

According to the report teenage pregnancies across Botswana are “a vital indicator for the health of the teen population because it not only echoes their health at this point, but it reflects their health and well-being for the next 30 years.”

Furthermore, the report states that injury and mortality among adolescents ages 15 to 19 went down, but there has been an increase in youth offenders ages 13 to 17 who were involved in violent crimes in the same time period. The report also states that three percent of students are reported to have used illicit drugs in 2018.

Thato Ganetsang, director of the Botswana Campaign for Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention says when this information from the report is combined with data from past years, it shows that there is evidence of a trend. “Small organisations and individuals who are involved in youth programming are struggling because they do not have the necessary resources to respond to these issues,” she says.

The report also showed that daily smoking among high school students in Botswana increased from 3.5 percent to 4.1 percent in 2018. This was attributed to lax policies. “We hope that policy-makers will channel their efforts to try to understand more what these differences are a result of and lessen them,” states the report.

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Sunday Standard July 5 – 11

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of July 5 - 11, 2020.