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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Alarming rise in teenage pregnancies noted!!!

Alarming rise in teenage pregnancies noted
By Marlon Ramos
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 09:07am (Mla time) 02/27/2008

MANILA, Philippines -- While most girls their age are worrying about the gowns they will wear to their junior-senior prom, Marie and Leilanie, both 16, have more pressing things to take care of.

Leilanie, not her real name, is eight months pregnant and is searching for a way to get her 19-year-old live-in partner out of prison. He was arrested five months ago for stealing manhole cover in Caloocan City.

“Wala po kasi kaming pera pambili ng pagkain kaya napagtripan niya ibenta yun (We had no money to buy food so he thought of selling the cover),” the timid girl told the Philippine Daily Inquirer, parent company of

Leilanie said she wants to be with him when she gives birth to their first-born next month.

“I’m trying to be strong for our baby,” she said.

Marie, on the other hand, complained of getting little sleep at night because she has to attend to her three-month-old son and her baby sister.

Marie said she misses going to the mall with her friends and playing street games.

“But I have learned to accept the reality of where I am now,” she said in Filipino.

“Nakakapagod lang po talaga mag-alaga ng bata, maghugas ng pinggan at maglinis ng bahay (But it’s really tiring to take care of a baby, wash the dishes and clean the house),” she adds, smiling.

Teenage pregnancy

According to the Forum for Family Planning and Development Inc. (FFPDI), Marie and Leilani are just two of millions of teenage mothers in the Philippines.

The group said the steady increase in the incidence of teen pregnancies in the country in the past few years has reached an “alarming stage.”

“The problem lies in the government’s sincerity in addressing issues about population growth and reproductive health,” Benjamin de Leon, FFPDI president, said in a news briefing in Quezon City on Tuesday.

1.7 million babies

De Leon said the latest data from the National Statistics Office showed that of 1.7 million babies born in 2004, almost 8 percent were born to mothers aged 15-19.

Almost 30 percent of Filipino women become mothers before reaching their 21st birthday, he said.

In 2000 alone, young mothers gave birth to 818,000 babies, he said.

“This means that almost one of every 10 babies is born to a teenage mothers,” he said.

He said this number could be bigger as births after March 5, 2005, were not recorded.

“We need to help these children for they are the next generation of parents, workers and leaders. In order for them to fulfill these roles… we must improve their access to education and information about sexuality and reproduction,” De Leon said in a separate statement.

Kiko dela Tonga, of Likhaan Foundation, said a recent study done by the Population Institute of the University of the Philippines showed that more than four million Filipinos aged 15-19 had already had sexual intercourse.

He said more than half of these are from poor families who do not have knowledge about contraceptives and reproductive health.

He said two of every five teenage pregnancies are unwanted ones; more than 46 percent of young pregnant women resort to induced abortion.

One of every four teenage mothers, Dela Tonga said, quit school to focus on child rearing or to find a job to help their families.


Medical studies likewise showed that 10 percent of babies born to young mothers are malnourished.

One of every five babies of teenage mothers dies of various causes, Dela Tonga said.

“These happen simply because young mothers are not ready emotionally, mentally and physically to rear a child of their own,” said Dr. Gloria Itchon of the Family Planning Organization of the Philippines.

Dela Tonga said although premarital sex has become prevalent among the youth, Filipino families have maintained its conservative view about sexuality and do not discuss the topic with their teenage children.

He said it’s very unlikely for typical parents to talk about issues regarding sex with their children.

“Although our society has become more liberated, it’s almost taboo for a family to talk openly about sex. But teenage pregnancy and premarital sex are the realities that the Filipino youth are facing,” he said.

De Leon lamented that the leaders of the Catholic Church are still opposed to the use of condoms and other contraceptives in their programs for reproductive health.

“We tried to present them the cases of (Marie and Leilanie). But they are just close-minded about the issue of artificial birth control methods,” he said.

“We’re not telling the youth to engage in premarital sex. What we’re saying is that should they fail to control themselves, there are available ways to protect themselves.”

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