As early as possible and as late as necessary

The pregnancy of a 10-year-old presents a complex and unprecedented situation but laws sensitive to the needs of the women and girls involved could make a world of a difference. The case of the ten-year-old child who is pregnant because of rape is a tragedy. Still recovering from the expenses incurred for an open heart surgery for this little girl, the family is now confronted with the challenges of encountering courts and panels of doctors at tertiary hospitals while coping with the fact that their daughter was raped in their own house and is now pregnant in late third trimester at this young age. We understand that the Government at the national level and from the Union Territory is providing the required legal, financial and medical support to her and her family, which is helpful. However, the personal tragedy for this family cannot be compensated by any external support.

It is unfortunate that in the present case all the attention is focused on the delivery of the foetus and not on the consequences of the child of 10 years carrying a pregnancy for so many more weeks. From studies of teenagers versus adults undergoing childbirth, we know that teens are at higher risk for many problems during pregnancy, including eclampsia, infection, preterm birth, intrauterine growth restriction, and maternal death (Shah 2011; Valenti 2015; WHO 2014).