Fertility amongst Women Aged 12 -19: Namibian Child-Mothers?

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By Richard Masule Sibanga

1. Introduction
Like many countries around the globe, Namibia commemorated World Population Day on the 11th July. Factors that influence population change are mainly birth, death and migration. This paper attempts to investigate the extent of fertility (births) among women aged 12 to 19 in post-independence Namibia. To undertake this, reference is mainly made to the 2001 Population and Housing Census.

2. Consequences of teenage pregnancy

Teenage childbearing tend to be linked to high morbidity and mortality for both mothers and their children alike as well as lower educational opportunities leading them to even landing in low paying jobs.
Early childbearing lead to a number of health consequences for the mother, including high blood pressure, toxaemia, anaemia, bleeding, difficult labour, premature delivery, and even death (Gupta and Mahy, 2003).
Children born to teenage mothers are more likely to have low birth weight, which can lead to neurological problems, retardation and death. They are also more exposed to prematurity, stillbirth and neonatal mortality (Gupta and Mahy, 2003).
Not only are teenage mothers more exposed to severe complications during delivery than their older counterparts, but also tend to be more infected by HIV more than their male age mates.

3. Fertility among women aged 12 to 19 years in Namibia

Statistics on young mothers are not readily available in Namibia. Much reference on the subject is still made to the 2001 Population and Housing Census figures. In the absence of up to date statistics on the subject, the population census can provide reliable information. This has its own advantages and disadvantages. Part of the advantages is reliability as the census covers the whole population. In addition, the census provides data on women younger than 12. One of the disadvantages is the long lapse of time, i.e. the picture on the ground might have changed since the 2001 Population and Housing Census. Table 1 below shows the number of birth events among women aged 12 to 19 in Namibia as well as the sex of their children as per 2001 Population and Housing Census.

Table 1: Births among women aged 12-19 in 2000/2001 by area and
region in Namibia

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