Introduction: Early marriage is associated with many social, physical and health problems and it is common in many developing countries including Egypt. Many factors affect the decision of marriage timing. In this study, we aim to estimate the prevalence, social and health hazards and to identify the attitudes and factors that affect attitudes towards early marriage.
Subjects and Methods: This cross-sectional study was done in Sohag, Upper Egypt. Random samples of ever-married women aged 20-60 years were taken from six districts. A questionnaire was designed to collect the data.
Results: The prevalence of early marriage is about 60%. The associated self-reported health and social hazards included: anemia (18%), hemorrhage (27.5%) uterine prolapse (37%), preterm (36%), LBW (31%), delayed immunization of infant (94%), separation from husband (17%) and discontinuation of education (23%). About 42% of studied populations supported early marriage. Reasons for supporting include: to prevent premarital promiscuity(35%) and difficulty to get married later (28%). Reasons for not supporting include harmful to mothers (26%), difficulty in childcare and discontinuation of education (18% each). Final models of factors significantly affecting the women’s attitudes indicated that the factors for not supporting early marriage were: higher education, believing early marriage is due to ignorance or is more among relatives, and is causing health or social problems.
Conclusion: Early marriage is still high in Sohag. Including the hazards of early marriage in the curriculum of preparatory and secondary schools as well as encouraging girls to complete their education up to university stage will help in decreasing this problem.