Unintended pregnancies among women living in urban slums: Evidence from a prospective study in Nairobi City, Kenya

Posted by Share-Net Intl on August 19, 2014 at 9:27 am

Background: Despite the significant proportion of young people residing in slum communities, little attention has been paid to the sexual and reproductive health (SRH) challenges they face during their transition to adulthood within this harsh environment. Little is known about the extent to which living in extreme environments, like slums, impact SRH outcomes, especially during this key developmental period. This paper aims to fill this research gap by examining the levels of and factors associated with unintended pregnancies among young women aged 15– 22 in two informal settlements in Nairobi, Kenya. Methods: We use data from two waves of a 3-year prospective survey that collected information from adolescents living in the two slums in 2007–2010. In total, 849 young women aged 15–22 were considered for analysis. We employed Cox and logistic regression models to investigate factors associated with timing of pregnancy experience and unintended pregnancy among adolescents who were sexually active by Wave 1 or Wave 2. Findings: About two thirds of sexually experienced young women (69%) have ever been pregnant by Wave 2. For 41% of adolescents, the pregnancies were unintended, with 26% being mistimed and 15% unwanted. Multivariate analysis shows a significant association between a set of factors including age at first sex, schooling status, living arrangements and timing of pregnancy experience. In addition, marital status, schooling status, age at first sex and living arrangements are the only factors that are significantly associated with unintended pregnancy among the young women. Conclusions: Overall, this study underscores the importance of looking at reproductive outcomes of early sexual initiation, the serious health risks early fertility entail, especially among out-of school girls, and sexual activity in general among young women living in slum settlements. This provides greater impetus for addressing reproductive behaviors among young women living in resource-poor settings such as slums.

Author: Beguy, Donatien Mumah, Joyce Gottschalk, Lindsay