Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:

Analysis Health in South Asia

Nutrition in adolescent girls in South Asia

BMJ 2017; 357 doi: (Published 11 April 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;357:j1309

Rapid Response:

Teenage pregnancy in India

Over past decade, India has successfully reduced the proportion of pregnancy between 15-19 years to half (16% during NFHS 3 in 2005-06 and 7.9% during NFHS 4 in 2015-16).1 Still, the estimation by UNFPA runs to 11.8 million teenage pregnancy for the country.2 An early marriage inevitably put the adolescent girls at the risk of being pregnant with low contraceptive awareness. High fertility and discontinued education after marriage remain the other facets of concern but the greatest threat of teenage pregnancy is higher rate of pregnancy-related complications, leading to high mortality.
Through mass awareness and legislation, India tries to mitigate the burden of early marriage. In addition, adolescent girls are being introduced to basic knowledge of menstrual health as a sincere effort to come out of social taboos. Even then, their families are not in favour of practicing what the girls were taught, suggesting that mere training/ knowledge cannot bring about changes in social perception in the country.3 With the introduction of peer educators, India is expecting to bridge this gap and addressing a sensitive social and medical issue like teenage pregnancy.

1. International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS) and Macro International. National Family Health Survey 4, 2015-16: India Fact sheet. Mumbai; 2017.
2. Inter-Parliamentary Union and World Health Organization. Child, early and forced marriage legislation in 37 Asia-Pacific countries. World Health Organization. Geneva. 2016.
3. Visaria L, Mishra RN. Health Training Programme for Adolescent Girls: Some Lessons from India’s NGO Initiative. J Health Manag 2017;19(1):97-108.

Competing interests: No competing interests

06 May 2017
Manas P Roy
Public Health Specialist
New Delhi