Early Childbearing in Honduras: A Continuing Challenge

Early childbearing is recognized worldwide to have a profound impact on the well-being and reproductive health of young women, as well as the overall pace and direction of a country’s development. Early childbearing can derail a young woman’s educational prospects, reduce her long-term social and economic autonomy, and endanger both her health and that of her newborn. In Honduras, one of Central America’s poorest countries, reducing high levels of adolescent childbearing is therefore critical to improving the lives of women and their families and society in general.

Reproductive rights are under attack. Will you help us fight back with facts?

Key Points

Key Points

• Honduras tiene la tasa de fecundidad adolescente más alta de América Central, con 137 nacimientos por cada 1.000 mujeres de 15 a 19 años. Esta tasa ha permanecido sin cambios durante las dos últimas décadas, pese a la disminución de la fecundidad en los demás grupos de mujeres. En números absolutos, los nacimientos en adolescentes aumentaron en un 50% entre 1987 y 2001.

• Honduras has the highest adolescent birthrate in Central America, at 137 births for every 1,000 15–19-year-olds. This rate has remained unchanged over the past two decades, despite declines in the birthrate among women in all other age-groups. In absolute numbers, births to adolescents increased by 50% between 1987 and 2001.

•  As of 2001, only one-third of all women aged 20–24 (and only one-seventh of those in rural areas) had completed primary school; less education is associated with a higher likelihood of early childbearing.

• One-half of 20–24-year-olds give birth by age 20; this proportion is higher among the least-educated women (70%), the poorest women (64%) and those in rural areas (60%).

• In 2001, 40% of all recent adolescent births were unplanned, and the highest proportion was among those with the most education (48%). Most sexually active 15–19-year-olds (70%) do not want to have a child in the next two years.

• Despite these reproductive preferences, just one in three sexually active adolescents uses a modern contraceptive method. Overall, 48% of adolescents have an unmet need for effective contraception.

• High levels of early childbearing coexist with low rates of professional prenatal and delivery care. In 2001, one-third of recent 15–24-year-old mothers did not make a single prenatal care visit. The same proportion gave birth without a medical professional in attendance.

• Policies and programs that aim to promote adolescents’ reproductive health and support their childbearing preferences exist, but they are often not fully implemented and need more official commitment and resources.