Trends in Adolescent Sexual Behaviors and Reproductive Outcomes in Central America between the 1990s and the Turn of the Century
Ghazaleh Samandari, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Ilene S. Speizer, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Regionally, adolescent fertility is high among Central American countries, particularly Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua. This study uses data from four national health surveys in each country from the early 1990s to the early 2000s to: (1) describe trends in sexual and reproductive health (SRH) for adolescents (ages 15-19); and (2) test the significance of and contributing factors to changes in SRH over time. Logistic regression analyses were employed to test trends and associations among sexual behavior, reproductive outcomes and key demographic factors over time. Findings show modest declines in adolescent childbearing over the decade studied. Rates of first births to adolescents have not dropped, while the rate of unwanted pregnancies has increased in the 15-19 age group in three of the four countries. Childbearing remains highest among rural women with lower education levels. These results suggest that further program policy development is needed to target adolescent fertility in Central America.