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Sarah Lawrence College

Publication Date

Fall 2012

Program Name

Argentina: Public Health in Urban Environments

Abstract

Background: Adolescent pregnancy is a common phenomenon among those living in poverty. Adolescent pregnancy is influenced by many social and cultural factors, leading to lack of use of contraceptives. This study took place in the neighborhood 25 de Mayo, in the city of Maipú, Mendoza in Argentina. This community is mostly composed of people with low incomes and limited education. Socioeconomic and the attitudes toward teenage pregnancy, as well as the use of contraceptives by adolescents, are distinct from those in wealthier better educated groups. This neighborhood is approximately 10,000 people, the majority of whom are women. Most of the women in this community do not attend secondary school, and almost none have health coverage. The poverty of this community has a strong effect on the culture around adolescent pregnancy. The study was based in the “Centro Integrador Comunitario 907°” (CIC), or integrated community center. In this CIC there is a reproductive health program intended to increase the use of contraception and improve the reproductive health of the woman in the community. The work of the health professionals in this CIC was fundamental to the analysis in this study.

Methodology: The study is based on interviews with people with different perspectives on adolescent pregnancy and the use of contraception in the neighborhood 25 de Mayo. Thirteen women between the ages of 14 and 19, who have had at least one child, were interviewed regarding their own experiences and thoughts about the use of contraceptives, and their thoughts about use of contraceptives in the community. In addition, different professionals in the CIC 907° were interviewed. This includes two health agents, one social worker, and one doctor. They provided distinct perspectives on this topic as well. The health agents and the social worker have close relationships with the members of the community, and they all provided essential information about the state of reproductive health, in particular adolescent pregnancies, in this community. Furthermore, two researchers of reproductive health in Buenos Aires and Mendoza were interviewed, to provide information about the situation of adolescent pregnancy in the country in general. Also, a secondary database was utilized. This database was collected by the social worker who provides all consultations about contraception in the community. The database has demographic information and information about the state of reproductive health of all the women who have had consultations about contraception in the CIC 907°.

Results: The interviews with adolescent mothers showed variation in experiences and opinions about contraceptives, and access to information about reproductive health. The interviews with health professionals, and also with researchers, showed that adolescent pregnancies are often intentional, and therefore not necessarily due to a lack of access to contraception, but rather due to cultural and societal factors.

The interviews and secondary sources showed that there are many social and cultural causes for adolescent pregnancy, and for the lack of use of contraceptives in the neighborhood 25 de Mayo. These causes include lack of education, the expectation of women to be mothers, the lack of acceptance of women’s sexuality, the ideology and beliefs against the use of contraception, myths about contraception, lack of sex education, the dynamic between doctors and their patients, and the dynamic between sexual partners that discourages the use of contraception and encourages teenage pregnancy. The prevalence of adolescent pregnancy is integrated with the culture and socioeconomic situation of this community.

Disciplines

Community Health and Preventive Medicine | International Public Health | Maternal and Child Health | Public Health Education and Promotion | Women's Studies

 

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