More teenage mothers in underprivileged regions

THE more underprivileged regions of Spain have higher percentages of teenage pregnancies, according to a study on teenage motherhood in Spain.

The study, carried out amongst 9,700 women by the Complutense University in Madrid and the Superior Scientific Research Council (CSIC), shows that in regions where more women have higher studies, more female employees and better income, the rate of teenage pregnancy is lower.

In Andalucia, Extremadura and Murcia, the percentage of teenage mother who by the age of 30 have had a job is 43 per cent, while in Madrid, Navarra and the Basque Country, it increases to more than 85 per cent.

The head of the study, Margarita Delgado, points out that “becoming a mother during adolescence has a strong impact on women’s lives. One of the worst problems is that the education period is shortened considerably, and this leads to a lack of professional opportunities.”

Figures also show that the chances of becoming a teenage mother depend greatly on if the woman has used contraceptives since her first sexual encounter. Before 1956, the number of women who used contraceptives during their first sexual encounter was less than one per cent in Castilla-La Mancha and 12 per cent in Asturias and the Basque Country. Between 1971 and 1985 the lowest figures were seen in Murcia, at 56.4 per cent, and more than 81 per cent in Asturias and the Basque Country.

By law, state education in Spain now includes information regarding avoiding unwanted pregnancies but “education regarding this needs to improve” said Delgado.

She said that in Spain, most teenage pregnancies end in abortion and added that women should have as few or as many children as they want, but “must have enough knowledge and education to prevent those they don’t want”.

She also pointed out that young mothers have more difficulties in the future for getting a job, and their private life includes leaving home sooner, getting married and having a second child sooner than most women, as well as there being more couples who split up.

The age of the first sexual encounter in Spain has also fallen. Fewer than 20 per cent of women born before 1956 had had sex before the age of 20; 52.7 per cent of those born between 1956 and 1970 had done so, and 74 per cent of women born between 1971 and 1985 had experienced their first sexual encounter before the age of 20. Despite being more sexually active, the number of teenage pregnancies has fallen from 42.8 per cent amongst those born before 1956, to 11.5 per cent of those born between 1971 and 1985.

In Andalucia, Extremadura and Murcia, 78 per cent of women who were teenage mothers had a second child before they were 25, compared to 56 per cent in Madrid, Navarra and the Basque Country.

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