Teenage pregnancy among unmarried teenagers in Malawi: Does sex of the household head matter?

Ololade J Baruwa, Sibusiso Mkwananzi, Acheampong Y Amoateng, Nicolette Naidoo


The role of parents, especially the household head, is very crucial in the sexual values and behaviour of teenagers. This study used the Malawi Demographic and Health Survey (MDHS) data of 2015-16 to examine the impact of sex of the household head on pregnancy outcomes among unmarried teenagers in Malawi. Using STATA 14, the data was analysed using univariate, bivariate and multivariate level of analysis. The multivariate logistic regression analysis was employed to examine the association between sex of the household head and teenage pregnancy. Results showed that teenage pregnancy was higher among unmarried females living in female-headed households (OR 2.54; CI: 1.01-6.43) compared to females from male-headed households. The study also found that unmarried teenagers with secondary and higher education had lower risk of teenage pregnancy (OR 0.53; CI: 0.40-0.72) compared to those with no education and primary education. The study concludes that teenage pregnancy is higher in female-headed households, a finding which suggests that parenting styles differ between male and female heads of households. Policy interventions in regard to sex education should be specific to the sex of the household heads in which teenage girls reside, while unmet need for contraceptives among teenagers should also be addressed. (Afr J Reprod Health 2020; 24[4]: 51-57).

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