Sociocultural factors perpetuating the practices of early marriage and childbirth in Sylhet District, Bangladesh

Elizabeth G. Henry, Nicholas B. Lehnertz, Ashraful Alam, Nabeel Ashraf Ali, Emma K. Williams, Syed Moshfiqur Rahman, Salahuddin Ahmed, Shams El Arifeen, Abdullah H. Baqui, Peter J. Winch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Background: The practice of adolescent marriage continues in communities throughout Bangladesh, with adolescent childbearing a common result. This early childbearing is associated with increased medical risks for both mothers and their newborns. Methods: Because of the need to understand the persistence of these behaviors in spite of the risks, various qualitative research methods were used to identify and better understand the various socio cultural factors perpetuating the practices of early marriage and childbirth. Results: Delaying the first birth after marriage can cause rumors of infertility, bring shame on the family, and in some cases lead the husband's family to seek another wife for their son. In addition, social stigma for childless women, emigration of husbands, and the belief that using modern contraceptives prior to the birth of the first child results in infertility also inhibits couples from delaying their first pregnancy. Discussion and Conclusions: Future efforts to promote delay in marriage and subsequent early childbearing should focus on allaying the fears of infertility related to delay in childbearing or secondary to contraceptive use, both for newly married couples and household decision-makers such as mothers-in-law.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)212-217
Number of pages6
JournalInternational health
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 2 2015


  • Adolescent childbirth
  • Bangladesh
  • Family planning
  • Timing of first birth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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