A new study released by the Guttmacher Institute, “Addressing Adolescent Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Health Needs in Mexico: Challenges and Opportunities,” (report available in Spanish only) reveals that women in rural, poor, and Southern states of Mexico have limited access to sexual and reproductive health resources compared to more urbanized, Northern states.
The researchers examined sexual, marital, and reproductive behavior in young women in regions of Mexico. With respect to marital patterns, 29% of women aged 20-24 reported having married before the age of 18 in rural areas, whereas 17% of women from the same group in urban areas reported an early marriage.
While overall contraceptive knowledge is high, contraceptive use among married women of this population has declined slightly from 56% in 1997 to 53% in 2006. Unmet need for contraceptives in married women under 30 has increased significantly from 23% in 1997 to 31% in 2006.
The researchers highlight the initial success of the inclusion of sex education in the official curricula in Mexican schools. However, the report suggests that teachers need to expand their knowledge of and confidence in teaching sex and reproductive health topics.
The second study released by Guttmacher this week reports that the level of maternal deaths in Mexico remains high at 57 deaths per 100,000 live births. The study, “Barriers to Safe Motherhood in Mexico,” (report available in Spanish only) examines maternal mortality rates across regions. The combined states of Guerro, Oaxaca, and Chiapas have maternal mortality rates of 97.3 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births—almost double the national average. These sub-national rates in Mexico rank five times higher than those found in industrialized countries.
The leading causes of maternal death in Mexico described in the study include hemorrhage and hypertension followed by clandestine abortion. The researchers conclude that maternal death from unsafe abortions is unlikely to decrease until women have greater access to safe, legal abortion and contraceptives.