Understanding adolescent pregnancy through adolescent perspectives : a critical review of the literature
Master of Public Health
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Adolescent pregnancy remains an issue of great concern in Canada, and other developed countries around the world. In 2005, more than 30,000 Canadian teens became pregnant, representing almost 7% of all pregnancies (Statistics Canada, 2008), and research tells us that a significant number of adolescent pregnancies are unintended (Sex Information and Education Council of Canada (SIECCAN), 2004). One study found that more than 90% of 15 to 19 year olds describe their pregnancies as unintended (Klein, 2005). Although rates of adolescent pregnancy seem to be declining, these numbers still fall short of what is acceptable and attainable (Spear, 2004b). Despite efforts to increase sexuality education and accessibility to contraceptives for teen girls living in Canada, this country still ranks 1out of 24 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) nations for teen fertility rates (UNICEF, 2007). It is also important to consider that although overall rates of teenage pregnancy appear to be declining, these declines in pregnancy and birth rates tend to be limited to urban, economically advantaged geographic locations (Best Start, 2007). Rates among marginalized groups remain high, and in some cases continue to climb. National trends can mask a number of realities that exist in a country. Teen birth rates from specific subpopulations reveal a more complex picture of adolescent pregnancy within a society (Best Start, 2007). Recent statistics from Ontario’s Ministry of Health and Long-term Care (MOHLTC) show higher birth rates in northern, remote areas, as compared to southern, urban communities (Ontario Maternity Care Expert Panel, 2006). Provincial statistics reveal a wide range of birth and pregnancy rates for teens, from a low of 9.7 live births/1000 women aged 15 to 19 years in British Columbia, to 104.4/1000 in Nunavut, and a low of 19.3 pregnancies/1000 women aged 15 to 19 years in Prince Edward Island, to a high of 145.6 pregnancies/1000 young women in Nunavut (Statistics Canada, 2008b).