Introduction: Every year it is estimated that about
14 million adolescent girls give birth globally with the highest rate (143 per
1000 girls aged 15 - 19 years) in the sub-Saharan Africa. Babies born to
adolescent mothers are at greater risk and are far more likely to die than
those born to older women. This study therefore sets out to describe the health
care seeking behaviors in a cohort of teenage mothers attending an Under-Five
Clinic in a densely populated section of Freetown, Sierra Leone with a view of
determining the impact of their behavior on the survival of their children. Methodology: This is a descriptively cross sectional and prospective study that involved
four hundred and six mothers attending the Under-Five Clinic in the Eastern end
of Freetown using semiclosed ended questionnaire which were interviewers administered
between 1st and 29th July 2011. Result: The age of the
study population ranged between 12 and 45 years, with a mean of 24.8 ± 6.3
years. Of the four hundred and six, eighty nine (21%) were teenagers (less than
20 years) with a majority (60.6%) of them being between 18 and 19 years old.
Concerning the 89 teenage mothers in the study population, the majority (95.5%) did not possess the secondary school
education, 42.7% were petty traders and more than a half of them (61.8%) were
married. The mothers were rated low in all the activities geared towards child
survival except immunization. In addition there was a delay in the initiation
of complementary feeds which were also of poor quality. Fewer percentages of
the mothers who had antenatal care in the hospitals delivered there. Conclusion: This study has revealed that early marriage is still common in Sierra Leone.
Also the teenage mothers did not engage fully in a majority of activities that
have been proven to contribute to the survival
of babies in the Tropics thereby making their children vulnerable to
malnutrition, measles and diarrhoeal diseases. It was recommended that the
country should use recognised teenage programs aimed at urgently addressing a
reduction in teenage pregnancy especially by improving
the provision of education/vocational studies for the girl child.
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