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Early union, 'disgrasya', and prior adversity and disadvantage: pathways to adolescent pregnancy among Filipino youth.

Habito CM, Morgan A, Vaughan C

  • Journal Reproductive health

  • Published 26 May 2021

  • Volume 18

  • ISSUE 1

  • Pagination 107

  • DOI 10.1186/s12978-021-01163-2


Few studies explore what it means to be an adolescent parent in the Philippines from the young parents' perspective. This study sought to improve understanding of how adolescent mothers and young fathers experienced pregnancy in Palawan, Philippines.

We conducted narrative analysis of 27 semi-structured interviews with 15 Filipino young parents.

Our findings point to three pathways to adolescent pregnancy differentiated by life circumstances and perceived self-efficacy: through early unions, through 'disgrasya' (accident) in romantic relationships, and when pregnancy is directly related to adversity and disadvantage. Some young people adopted agentic narratives and had intended pregnancies within early unions. Young people who had unintended pregnancies in romantic relationships recounted constrained choice narratives, taking responsibility for their decisions while emphasising external factors' influence on their decision-making. Other young mothers described the ways that prior adversity and disadvantage gave rise to unfavourable circumstances-including sexual violence-that led to unintended pregnancy but shared narratives showing how they had reclaimed agency in their lives.

Our findings highlight the need to (1) address underlying poverty and structural inequalities that limit Filipino young people's life choices and contribute to their pathways to adolescent pregnancy; (2) provide Filipino young people with access to essential sexual and reproductive health information, services, and supplies; and (3) change social norms to rectify gender-based power imbalances and sexual violence.