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Teenage pregnancy on the rise

FROM THE STANDS By Domini M. Torrevillas (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 11, 2013
There is evidence supporting the Reproductive Health law that calls for sexuality education
among young students. I am not for teaching the kids to engage in safe sex, but rather, for
telling them why they should not engage in early sex, and yes, before marriage. With regulated
sexuality education, the young are informed about sex, pregnancy, unplanned and planned,
instead of through the internet or pornographic magazines that somehow manage to reach them.
Peep into their rooms and youll see copies of Playboy and Penthouse and other sexy
publications tucked between the bed sheets, and for-adults-only videos in the internet.
Figures made available to us show that globally, 14-16 million adolescent girls between 15 and
19 years old give birth every year and pregnancy-related deaths are the leading cause of death for
girls at such young ages.
Honing home, we have copies of the 2011 annual report of the UNFPA-Philippines office
which report that teen pregnancies in the country rose by 70 percent in a span of 10 years from
114,205 in 1999 to 195,662 in 2009.
These statistics were revealed at a press conference the other day by officials of the National
Youth Commission, the UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund), Commission on Population,
the National Statistics Office and civil society organizations. At the end of the conference the call
was made for collective actions to address the issue.
Benjamin de Leon, president of the Forum for Family Planning and Development, an NGO
working on adolescent health issues, expressed alarm that almost 10 percent of all Filipino
women aged 15-19 have already given birth. This is a reality that we must address, he said.
There is an urgency for all sectors to work together to help address adolescent reproductive
health issues and teen pregnancy because of the health and economic implications to the
country, he said. A high rate of teen pregnancy also means a high risk for maternal deaths
among our young girls.
The same alarming message was made by Carmelita Ericta, administrator of the National
Statistics Office (NSO). There is an increasing trend of maternal deaths among teenagers, she
said. The proportion of maternal deaths doubled from 5 percent to 10 percent between 2000 and
2010. The number of babies born to teenage mothers also increased from 7.1 percent to 11
NSO data also show that 13-14 percent of all registered marriages are among teenagers below
20 years old while data from the National Youth Commission show that the rate of teen

pregnancy in the country is among the highest in the ASEAN region and the only country where
the rate is increasing.
The global issue of teen pregnancy is the reason why the annual celebration of World Population
Day July 11 led by UNFPA, focuses on addressing teen pregnancy.
The Philippines joins the rest of the world in calling the attention of government and civil
society groups to help address rising teen pregnancies through better policies, improved
education and information campaigns and programs that can reach our adolescents in schools, in
communities or wherever they may be, de Leon said.

The alarming rise of teenage pregnancy

By Henrylito D. Tacio
Regarding Henry
Friday, November 18, 2011
JOAN was only 10 when she came to Davao City. That was the time when her parents got
separated. Her father left the family for another woman.
Joan is the youngest of four siblings so she was brought to the city to live with her grandmother.
Her mother decided to work abroad to support the children.
Without her parents, life was not rosy at all for Joan. When there were problems, she has no one
to talk to except some friends who are also at her age. She wont dare to consult her
grandmother, whom she considered as very strict.

Then, something happened that really changed her life completely.

She was already 16 when she attended the JS Promenade together with her boyfriend, whos a
year older. It was not the party the students were longing for. There was dancing but drinking of
liquor was prohibited.
Wanting to have more fun, some of the students, including Joan, decided to sneak out from the
party. The group went to a nearby bar and imbibed some beers and wines. They were laughing
out loud until some of them became drunk. Joan also drank too many. Before she knew it, she
passed out.
The following day, she woke up naked in bed with her boyfriend. Something happened between
the two of them that night; she lost her virginity.
Joan went home and told no one about what happened. A month later, she broke up with her
boyfriend when she discovered that he was also dating another girl. She was more devastated
when she found out that she was pregnant.
It may be preposterous that a teenager like Joan is already pregnant at 16 but such is the reality
these days. It is happening not only in Davao City but in other parts of the country as well.
In 1998, the National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) showed that some 3.6 million of
female teenagers got pregnant. In 92 percent of these teens, the pregnancy was unplanned and
the majority (78 percent) did not even use contraceptives the first time they had sex.
Many of the youth are clueless that even on a single intercourse, they could end up getting
pregnant, wrote Dr. Rebecca S. Singson in an article that appeared in the Philippine Daily
The 2002 Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality Study by the University of the Philippines
Population Institute and the Demographic Research and Development Foundation confirmed the
NDHS study.
The study showed that 26 percent of Filipino youths around the country from ages 15 to 25
admitted to having a premarital sex experience.
What was worse is that 38 percent of these youths were already in a live-in arrangement.
Studies conducted by the World Bank from 2000 to 2003 ranked the Philippines as one of the top
10 countries with an increasing number of teenage mothers. Seven out of 10 Filipina mothers are
adolescents, most of them below 19 years old.
Dr. Mildred R. Yutuc is an obstetrician-gynecologist from Caloocan City. In her 21 years of
practice, she seldom encounters sexually active teenage patients until in the past three years.

I have observed that the number of single mothers who ask for help regarding sex-related
problems gets younger, she says.
Womens groups are alarmed by the steady increase in teen pregnancies in recent years.
We need to stress that delaying the age of pregnancies are important for them, Dr. Junice
Melgar, Likhaans executive director, told Channel News Asia, not just physically to save their
lives because of the risks of early pregnancy, but also economically, because we know that young
people who are able to have opportunities are the people who are able to delay sexual
engagements, especially having pregnancies.
According to Dr. Yutuc, teen mothers like any other teens are still growing in matters of
physical, emotional and social developments.
Should they fail to get their parents support, these teen mothers would have inadequate prenatal
care and become undernourished, the lady physician warns.
In a study conducted by the American Medical Association, it was found out that babies born to
women who do not have regular prenatal care are four times more likely to die before the age of
one year.
Teen mothers are also at higher risk of serious medical complications, Dr. Yutuc says.
These medical complications include pregnancy-induced hypertension/pre-eclampsia, significant
anemia, placenta previa, premature birth/prolonged labor, low-birth weight infant with
underdeveloped organs, and post-partum depression.
Death rate from pregnancy complications is higher for 15 years old and younger, writes Dr.
Yutuc in an article, which appeared in Health and Home.
Despite the risks, many teens prefer abortion.
In the United States, nearly four in 10 teen pregnancies (excluding those ending in miscarriages)
are terminated by abortion. There were about 274,000 abortions among teens in 1996.
Although abortion is illegal in the Philippines, the rate is higher (25 per 1,000 women) compared
to the United States where abortion is legal (23 per 1,000 women).
For sure, there are more abortions that happen in our country that are not even reported, Dr.
Singson writes.
What is even more alarming is the extent of what these pregnant teens do just to terminate their

When abortifacients fail, Dr. Yutuc informs, some seek out abortionists who insert objects
into their uterus to kill the baby, which is very dangerous since it could introduce infection and
cause profuse bleeding to the would-be mother.
But thats not all.
The infection may spread to the pelvic organs, at times requiring the removal of the uterus,
ovaries and fallopian tubes, making the mother unable to bear children anymore, Dr. Singson
writes. Worse, abortion could result in maternal death. Should abortion fail, the pregnancy
outcome could be an infant with abnormalities.
But how did abortion come into the picture? one teenager asked. How did abortion even
become an option? Fear. Fear of being unaccepted, fear of the unknown, and lots and lots of fear.
Will no one stand up and lend an ear to just listen to what these teens are experiencing? Just how
many more girls are getting rid of their babies? How many girls die by trying to kill their unborn
child? How many babies will have to lose their life because no one listens?
Pregnancy is not the only consequence of sexual intimacy among teenagers. Sexually transmitted
infections (STIs) are most likely to infect them. Most teenagers are not faithful to their partners.
Should one relationship fails, there is always another one. Some girls even claim that they
engage in casual sex with acquaintances.
STIs affect the lower genital tract, Dr. Yutuc writes. Because there is a direct connection from
the vagina to the pelvic organs, infections can easily spread to the uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries
and adjacent peritoneum. In 20 percent of PID (pelvic inflammatory disease) cases, damage to
these organs result in infertility.
There is also a great risk of catching the dreaded human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the
microorganism that causes Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (Aids).
During the United Nations International Childrens Emergency Fund presentation of the State of
the Worlds Children, Dr. Eric Tayag reported that in 2010, one out of three HIV patients is from
the 15-24-year-old bracket.
Roman Catholic Bishop Reynaldo Evangelista of the Diocese of Boac in Marinduque blamed the
mass media and the Internet and their emphasis on sex for the increased teen pregnancy in
the country.
People from across the county are so exposed to television shows containing disturbing
messages and images. And it really has a negative effect on our youth, he wrote in an article
posted on the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines website.
Bishop Evangelista says in the Internet, where regulation is almost nil, teens can easily find sexrelated materials.

Other reasons why teenagers these days engaged in sex early in life are due to family problems,
broken family, peer pressure, influential trends (regarding sex), lack of attention and love from
parents, lack of moral values, failure to nurture with good principles, curiosity, lack of
information about sex, use of illegal drugs, lack of guidance, prostitution and unintelligent
Meanwhile, Joan is in a complete dilemma. Who should she ask for help? Her mother is working
abroad. Her father is living with another family. Her boyfriend is now engaged to another girl.
Her grandmother would be mad at her should she found out shes pregnant. Her friends dont
know what to do as well.
I am in a total quandary, she said. Should I have this pregnancy terminated?

Teen pregnancies in the Philippines

By Rebecca B. Singson
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Filed Under: People, Lifestyle & Leisure (6/20/2008)
MANILA, PhilippinesThe sexual revolution has ushered in a period in which the average
adolescent experiences tremendous pressures to have sexual experiences of all kinds. Filipino
teens get a higher exposure to sex from the Internet, magazines, TV shows, movies and other
media than decades ago, yet without any corresponding increase in information on how to handle
the input. So kids are pretty much left to other kids for opinions and value formation when it
comes to sex.
Sexual misinformation is therefore equally shared in the group. Parents at home and teachers in
school feel equally inadequate or uneasy to discuss the topic of sex with youngsters. The
problem mounts because the barkada (gang) has a more profound influence than parents do and
they exert pressure and expect the adolescent to conform to the rest of them.
In fact, female adolescents whose friends engage in sexual behavior were found to be more likely
to do the same compared to those who do not associate with such peers. If the teen perceives her
peers to look negatively at premarital sex, she was more likely to start sex at a later age.
Statistics in the United States show that each year, almost 1 million teenage women10 percent
of all women aged 15-19 and 19 percent of those who have had sexual intercoursebecome
pregnant and one fourth of teenage mothers have a second child within two years of their first.

In the Philippines, according to the 2002 Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality Study by the
University of the Philippines Population Institute (Uppi) and the Demographic Research and
Development Foundation, 26 percent of our Filipino youth nationwide from ages 15 to 25
admitted to having a premarital sex experience.
Whats worse is that 38 percent of our youth are already in a live-in arrangement.
The 1998 National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) reveals that 3.6 million of our
teenagers (thats a whopping 5.2 percent of our population!) got pregnant. In 92 percent of these
teens, the pregnancy was unplanned, and the majority, 78 percent, did not even use
contraceptives the first time they had sex. Many of the youth are clueless that even on a single
intercourse, they could wind up pregnant.
There are many reasons teen pregnancies should be avoided. Heres a low down on the facts:
Risk for malnutrition
Teenage mothers tend to have poor eating habits and are less likely to take recommended daily
multivitamins to maintain adequate nutrition during pregnancy. They are also more likely to
smoke, drink or take drugs during pregnancy, which can cause health problems for the baby.
Risk for inadequate prenatal care
Teenage mothers are less likely to seek regular prenatal care which is essential for monitoring the
growth of the fetus; keeping the mothers weight in check; and advising the mother on nutrition
and how she should take care of herself to ensure a healthy pregnancy. According to the
American Medical Association, babies born to women who do not have regular prenatal care are
4 times more likely to die before the age of 1 year.