Revisiting the ‘crisis’ in teen births: What is the impact of teen births on young mothers and their children?

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2015-05-28

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Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit

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University of Cape Town

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Reports in the South African media consistently describe an explosion of teenage pregnancies. Yet studies by the Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit (SALDRU) at the University of Cape Town show that teen childbearing in the country has decreased from 30% in 1984 to 23% in 2008. The proportion of young teens giving birth has also decreased, with young women aged 18 and 19 accounting for the majority of teen births. However, SALDRU’s research shows that teenage childbearing has a significant impact on the education of teenage mothers, and on the health and education of their children. Young mothers under 17 years are particularly at risk. It is therefore essential to delay the age at which young women first give birth, and to strengthen support services for teenage mothers and their children.


This policy brief was developed with assistance from Lake, L. & Smith, C. of the Children’s Institute (UCT), with thanks to Hall, K., Proudlock, P., Jamieson, L., Pendlebury, S. & Meintjes, H. for assistance with the policy implications.


William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the Population Reference Bureau.

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