A new study has found that in India stunting and under-weight
were 11 percentage points more prevalent in children born to adolescent mothers than those born to
Conducted by International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), the research also found that there
was a strong relationship between teenage pregnancy and child under-nutrition because of several
factors including lower educational attainment, poorer nutritional status, less access to health services
during antenatal or postnatal period, sub-optimal complementary feeding practices and poorer living
conditions of teenage mothers.
The study is based on data from the fourth round of National Family Health Survey during 2015-16. It
was representative at both state and district levels and had covered six lakh households.
It has found that 31% of married women in India gave birth by the age of 18 in 2016 due to societal
pressure to consummate the marriage and low knowledge of reproductive health, among other factors.
Adolescent mothers were more likely to be anaemic compared with adult mothers and anaemia was
associated with reduced child growth. This finding is based on analysis of data relating to 60,097
“As estimated 16 million girls aged 15-19 years give birth annually in the world and 95% of these births
occur in low-income and middle-income countries. Reducing adolescent pregnancy can hasten its
progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly those related to poverty,
health, nutrition, general wellbeing, equity, and education," says study co-author, Phuong Hong Nguyen.
Pregnancy and childbirth complications are also leading cause of death among 15-19 year old girls
globally. Adolescent pregnancy often results in school dropout affecting young women’s education and
income. The prevalence of thinness among Indian women is twice as high in those married before 18
than those married after 24.
" Unfortunately, in India, early marriage and subsequent pregnancy is often not a deliberate choice, but
rather the result of an absence of choices, and of circumstances beyond a girl’s control," added Purnima
Menon, a co-author of the study published in The Lancet Child and Adolescent Health.