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Contraception for married adolescents (15-19 years) in India: insights from the National Family Health Survey-4 (NFHS-4)
Authors: Ijyaa Singh, Ankita Shukla, Jissa Vinoda Thulaseedharan, Gurpreet Singh
Source: Reproductive Health, Volume 18, issue 1 253, DOI:10.1186/s12978-021-01310-9
Topic(s): Family planning
Pregnancy outcomes
Country: Asia
Published: DEC 2021
Abstract: Purpose: Despite the fact that marriage below the age of 18 years is illegal in India, a considerable number of females get married and start childbearing during their adolescent years. There is low prevalence of contraceptive methods and high unmet need for family planning (FP). Realizing this, new government programs have been launched to increase the uptake of sexual and reproductive health services among adolescents. However, evidence specific to this age group remains scarce. Aim and objectives: The present study was conducted to assess the prevalence of modern contraceptives among married adolescents, and to determine its association with sociodemographic variables, health worker outreach, and media exposure to FP messages in India. Methods: Data for this analysis was drawn from the fourth round of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-4) conducted in India during 2015-16. The sample size is restricted to 13,232 currently married adolescent girls aged 15-19 years, who were not pregnant at the time of the survey. Bivariate and multivariate analysis were conducted to assess the levels of contraceptive use and its predictors among married adolescents. Results: The use of modern contraceptives among married adolescents increased from 4 to 10% between 1992-93 and 2015-16. The uptake of modern contraceptives was found to be low among the uneducated, those residing in rural areas, among backward classes, those practising Hindu religion, women in the poorest wealth quintile, women without children, and those with no exposure to FP messages via media or health care workers. Among those who met health care workers and discussed FP issues with them, 34.11% were using modern contraceptives as compared to 11.53% of those who did not have discussions with health care workers. Conclusions: The evidence suggests that contact with health care workers significantly influences the use of modern contraceptives. Further focus on increasing contact between married adolescents' and health care workers, and improving the quality of counselling will protect adolescents from early marriage and pregnancy.