Under-20 births similar to levels in parts of Africa, Bangladesh, new StatsCan study shows

Nunavut tops in Canada for teen moms


Young, single and pregnant: Nunavut babies are still much more likely to have unmarried teenaged mothers than anywhere else in the country.

Nunavut teens continue to give birth to babies at rates that are 11 times higher than the rest of Canada, according to numbers from a Statistics Canada report released last Friday.

In 2005, 181 babies were born to Nunavut teens under 20. This means one in four of the 699 babies born in the territory in 2005 had a teenaged mother.

Nunavut's rate of teen births is similar to levels found sub-Saharan Africa or Bangladesh.

Teenaged mothers are more likely to have riskier pregnancies compared to older mothers.

That's partly because young pregnant women are less likely to eat well, get prenatal check-ups and to stop smoking. Pregnant teens run a risk of anemia, high blood pressure, and premature labour. Their children have a higher risk of problems related to prematurity and low birth weight.

StatsCan said that in 2005 Nunavut also had the highest rate of stillbirths in Canada – about two times higher than in the rest of the country.

Babies in Nunavut also weighed less than babies born elsewhere in Canada. The average birth weight of 3.374 grams (7.4 pounds) is the lowest in Canada.

France, Sweden and Great Britain have attempted to prevent teen pregnancy with vocational training and education and help in finding jobs. These efforts increase teenagers' ability to plan for the future and encourage them to delay pregnancy and childbearing, researchers say.

In Canada, the average age of women giving birth has risen steadily in the last 25 years. In both 2004 and 2005, the average age was 29.2 years.

But in 2005, the average age of a woman giving birth in Nunavut was 24.7. More than two in three were unmarried.

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