Unveiling the realities of marrying too young: implications of child marriage on sexual and reproductive health of girls and infant survival in Sub-Sahara Africa.

  • Emmanuel O Olamijuwon Institute for Health Measurement
  • Vesper H Chisumpa University of Zambia
  • Joshua O Akinyemi College of Medicine, University of Ibadan
Keywords: child marriage, reproductive health, contraceptive use, sexual violence, infant survival.


Despite laws against child marriage, the practice remains widespread in sub-Sahara Africa (SSA), partly because of poverty, inequality, and cultural norms. We examined the levels of child marriage as well as its implications for the sexual and reproductive health of girls and infant survival in SSA. Data was drawn from the recent DHS of 18 countries in SSA. Results show that women who married earlier than 18years were less likely to use a modern method of contraception [OR:0.92, CI:0.869-0.982], more likely to experience sexual violence [OR:1.33, CI:1.188-1.487], lower antenatal visits [IRR:0.94, CI:0.926-0.950] and less likely to deliver at a health facility [OR:0.53, CI:0.495-0.560]. They were also less likely to be assisted by a skilled birth attendant [OR:0.65, CI:0.609-0.685] and their first births were less likely to survive infancy [HR:0.84, CI:0.814-0.869]. These findings highlight the negative implications of child marriage and the need for heightened efforts to reduce its practice.

Author Biographies

Emmanuel O Olamijuwon, Institute for Health Measurement
Vesper H Chisumpa, University of Zambia
Department of Population Studies
Joshua O Akinyemi, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan
Department of Epidemiology and Medical Statistics