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      Determinants of Sexual Activity and Pregnancy among Unmarried Young Women in Urban Kenya: A Cross-Sectional Study

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          With age of marriage rising in Kenya, the period between onset of puberty and first marriage has increased, resulting in higher rates of premarital sexual activity and pregnancy. We assessed the determinants of sexual activity and pregnancy among young unmarried women in urban Kenya.


          Baseline data from five urban areas in Kenya (Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, Machakos, and Kakamega) collected in 2010 by the Measurement, Learning & Evaluation project were used. Women aged 15-24 years, who had never been married, and were not living with a male partner at the time of survey (weighted n=2020) were included. Using weighted, multivariate Cox proportional hazard regression and logistic regression analyses, we assessed factors associated with three outcome measures: time to first sex, time to first pregnancy, and teenage pregnancy.


          One-half of our sample had ever had sex; the mean age at first sex among the sexually-experienced was 17.7 (± 2.6) years. About 15% had ever been pregnant; mean age at first pregnancy was 18.3 (±2.2) years. Approximately 11% had a teenage pregnancy. Three-quarters (76%) of those who had ever been pregnant (weighted n=306) reported the pregnancy was unwanted at the time. Having secondary education was associated with a later time to first sex and first pregnancy. In addition, religion, religiosity, and employment status were associated with time to first sex while city of residence, household size, characteristics of household head, family planning knowledge and misconceptions, and early sexual debut were significantly associated with time to first pregnancy. Education, city of residence, household wealth, early sexual debut, and contraceptive use at sexual debut were associated with teenage pregnancy for those 20-24 years.


          Understanding risk and protective factors of youth sexual and reproductive health can inform programs to improve young people’s long-term potential by avoiding early and unintended pregnancies.

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          WHO guidelines on preventing early pregnancy and poor reproductive outcomes among adolescents in developing countries.

          Adolescent pregnancy and its consequences represent a major public health concern in many low-middle income countries of the world. The World Health Organization has recently developed evidence-based guidelines addressing six areas: preventing early marriage; preventing early pregnancy through sexuality education, increasing education opportunities and economic and social support programs; increasing the use of contraception; reducing coerced sex; preventing unsafe abortion; and increasing the use of prenatal care childbirth and postpartum care. In each of these areas, World Health Organization recommends directions for future research. The summary concludes with a brief look at global and regional initiatives that provide a window of opportunity for stepping up action in this important area.
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            The effects of unintended pregnancy on infant, child, and parental health: a review of the literature.

            This article provides a critical review of studies assessing the effects of unintended pregnancy on the health of infants, children, and parents in developed and developing countries. A framework for determining and measuring the pathways between unintended pregnancy and future health outcomes is outlined. The review highlights persistent gaps in the literature, indicating a need for more studies in developing countries and for further research to assess the impact of unintended pregnancy on parental health and long-term health outcomes for children and families. The challenges in measuring and assessing these health impacts are also discussed, highlighting avenues in which further research efforts could substantially bolster existing knowledge.
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              Prevalence and determinants of unintended pregnancy among women in Nairobi, Kenya

              Background The prevalence of unintended pregnancy in Kenya continues to be high. The 2003 Kenya Demographic and Health Survey (KDHS) showed that nearly 50% of unmarried women aged 15–19 and 45% of the married women reported their current pregnancies as mistimed or unwanted. The 2008–09 KDHS showed that 43% of married women in Kenya reported their current pregnancies were unintended. Unintended pregnancy is one of the most critical factors contributing to schoolgirl drop out in Kenya. Up to 13,000 Kenyan girls drop out of school every year as a result of unintended pregnancy. Unsafe pregnancy termination contributes immensely to maternal mortality which currently estimated at 488 deaths per 100 000 live births. In Kenya, the determinants of prevalence and determinants of unintended pregnancy among women in diverse social and economic situations, particularly in urban areas, are poorly understood due to lack of data. This paper addresses the prevalence and the determinants of unintended pregnancy among women in slum and non-slum settlements of Nairobi. Methods This study used the data that was collected among a random sample of 1262 slum and non-slum women aged 15–49 years in Nairobi. The data was analyzed using simple percentages and logistic regression. Results The study found that 24 percent of all the women had unintended pregnancy. The prevalence of unintended pregnancy was 21 per cent among women in slum settlements compared to 27 per cent among those in non-slum settlements. Marital status, employment status, ethnicity and type of settlement were significantly associated with unintended pregnancy. Logistic analysis results indicate that age, marital status and type of settlement had statistically significantly effects on unintended pregnancy. Young women aged 15–19 were significantly more likely than older women to experience unintended pregnancy. Similarly, unmarried women showed elevated risk for unintended pregnancy than ever-married women. Women in non-slum settlements were significantly more likely to experience unintended pregnancy than their counterparts in slum settlements. The determinants of unintended pregnancy differed between women in each type of settlement. Among slum women, age, parity and marital status each had significant net effect on unintended pregnancy. But for non-slum women, it was marital status and ethnicity that had significant net effects. Conclusion The study found a high prevalence of unintended pregnancy among the study population and indicated that young and unmarried women, irrespective of their educational attainment and household wealth status, have a higher likelihood of experiencing unintended pregnancy. Except for the results on educational attainments and household wealth, these results compared well with the results reported in the literature. The results indicate the need for effective programs and strategies to increase access to contraceptive services and related education, information and communication among the study population, particularly among the young and unmarried women. Increased access to family planning services is key to reducing unintended pregnancy among the study population. This calls for concerted efforts by all the stakeholders to improve access to family planning services among the study population. Increased access should be accompanied with improvement in the quality of care and availability of information about effective utilization of family planning methods.

                Author and article information

                Role: Academic Editor
                PLoS One
                PLoS ONE
                PLoS ONE
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, CA USA )
                5 June 2015
                : 10
                : 6
                [1 ]Department of Maternal and Child Health, Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, United States of America
                [2 ]Measurement, Learning, and Evaluation Project, Carolina Population Center, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, United States of America
                University of Vienna, AUSTRIA
                Author notes

                Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

                Conceived and designed the experiments: CCO ISS. Performed the experiments: CCO ISS. Analyzed the data: CCO ISS. Contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools: CCO ISS. Wrote the paper: CCO ISS.


                This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited

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                Figures: 0, Tables: 5, Pages: 17
                This research work was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation ( www.gatesfoundation.org/) and was supported by grant, 5 R24 HD050924, Carolina Population Center, awarded to the Carolina Population Center at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development ( www.nichd.nih.gov). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. In addition, the contents of this paper are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the funders.
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                Data are available from the MLE Data Manager at Carolina Population Center upon request (email: mle-data-use-inquiry@ 123456unc.edu ). You will need to submit a third party data request form for the data to be available to you. The form can be obtained from https://www.urbanreproductivehealth.org/sites/mle/files/third_party_data_request_form_-_kenya_june_2014.pdf.



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