The National Youth Commission, supported by the Department of Health and the World Health Organization, convened the 2014 National Summit on Teen Pregnancy last April 24. This summit, which saw the active participation of adolescent youth, delivered a clear message:
Adolescent sexual and reproductive health (ASRH), or the lack thereof, is fast becoming the defining issue of this generation of young Filipinos. Without a robust response from all stakeholders, the Philippines is on track toward a full-blown, national teenage pregnancy crisis. Staggering facts support this call for concern. Recent (2014) data from the Philippine Statistical Authority (PSA) reveal that every hour, 24 babies are delivered by teenage mothers. According to the 2014 Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality (YAFS) study, around 14 percent of Filipino girls aged 15 to 19 are either pregnant for the first time or are already mothers—more than twice the rate recorded in 2002. Among six major economies in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the Philippines has the highest rate of teenage pregnancies and is the only country where the rate is increasing, per the United Nations Population Fund.
According to Josefina Natividad, YAFS coordinator and director of the University of the Philippines Population Institute, young Filipinos have limited access to sex education and ASRH services, especially if they are underage and unmarried. Seventy-eight percent are not using any form of contraception or protection against sexually transmitted diseases and infections when they are having sex for the first time. While government programs aim to delay the beginning of childbearing and hasten fertility decline, teenage pregnancies continue to increase.
Data show that pregnant teenagers in the Philippines are mostly 17 to 19 years old. They live with their mothers, parents, or relatives. The father of the child is, in most cases, a teenage boy. Reasons for becoming pregnant among teenagers include: unplanned sexual encounters (“getting caught up in the moment”) and peer pressure; lack of information on safe sex; breakdown of family life and lack of good female role models in the family; and absence of accessible, adolescent-friendly clinics.
Teenagers from poor backgrounds are disproportionately represented among pregnant teenagers. However, experts have argued that teenage pregnancy should be understood as a symptom of dire economic conditions rather than a cause of it. Teenage pregnancy perpetuates the cycle of poverty and inequality because most pregnant teenagers have no source of income and face greater financial difficulties later in life. This is because they drop out of school and are less likely to pursue further education or skills training.
Teenage mothers face critical health risks, including: inadequate nutrition during pregnancy due to poor eating habits; dangers associated with the reproductive organs not ready for birth; and maternal death due to higher risk of eclampsia, among others.
Alarmingly, while maternal deaths are decreasing in the Philippines, teenage maternal deaths are increasing. Ten percent of pregnant teenagers died in the last year, according to the PSA. Data from the WHO also show a high and increasing incidence of fetal death in Filipino mothers under 20. At the end of the teenage pregnancy summit, the participants strongly endorsed a comprehensive sexual education curriculum; forging a “Batang Ina” social movement; and establishing adolescent-friendly spaces. The enactment of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act was also recognized as an important step to make ASRH services more accessible to those in need. As an international child rights organization, Plan International believes that the rights and needs of adolescent girls and boys, including their right to access ASRH services, must be ensured.
In our work in the Philippines, ASRH continues to be a priority in line with our global “Because I am a Girl” campaign and national Batang Lusog program. We are implementing ASRH interventions in Southern Leyte and Eastern Samar, where cases of teenage pregnancy are increasing. Youth-Friendly Spaces are being established to provide peer education and counseling on ASRH and rights. This is complemented by our response to eliminate gender-based violence in communities by establishing Women-Friendly Spaces. These measures help prevent teenage pregnancy by disseminating the right information about the risks and impacts of teenage pregnancy on the teen mom and the infant.
An exploratory study by Plan International on the rising incidence of teenage pregnancy in “Yolanda”-affected areas is also being designed. In the face of numerous challenges that Filipino adolescents face every day—discrimination, gender-based violence, harmful gender stereotypes—they must be equipped with the life skills and assets to help them make the best decisions for themselves and their community. When adolescents choose to have sex, they have a right to access not just information but also inclusive ASRH services.
Teenage pregnancy is one of the major factors that affect population growth in the Philippines. It is considered as one of the major problems of the government is facing of today. According to the Government statistics records, teenage pregnancy cases rise up to 70% over 10 years only. These alarming cases caught the attention of some lawmakers. The very best example solution that the government made this year was the passage of RH Bill or the Reproductive Health Bill. This bill aims to free access of use of contraceptives, fertility control, sexual education, and maternal care. The government conceived this as the solution to the problem. Others may see it as helpful but others also contradicts it. Teenage pregnancy is continue growing and really affects our economic status.
byJC Punongbayan, holds a master’s degree from the UP School of Economics, where he also graduated summa cum laude in 2009 and currently teaches part-time. (July 27, 2014) http://www.rappler.com/move-ph/ispeak/50002-teenage-pregnancies-cause-and-effect First, the incidence of teenage childbirth has more than doubled over the past decade. That is, among girls aged 15 to 19, whereas only 6.3% were already mothers in 2002, by 2012 around 13.6% were already mothers. Second (and expectedly), premarital sex among the youth is also on the rise: In 2002, only 23.2% of youth have engaged in premarital sex, but in 2013 this has increased to 32% (amounting to about 6.2 million youth).
Third, while both teenage males and females have become more likely to engage in premarital sex, the gap between the sexes has declined over the past decade. And fourth, a whopping 78% of first instances of premarital sex were unprotected (not only against unwanted pregnancy but also sexually transmitted diseases). Surprisingly, girls were more likely to not use any form of protection during their first sexual encounters. Effect of teenage pregnancy in the Philippines
Effects on teenage pregnancy
Teenage pregnancy is a serious issue that may seriously impact the future of a young woman. Any teen pregnancy will be a challenge as teens typically lack skills needed to handle a pregnancy and motherhood. Patience, maturity and ability to handle stress are required by pregnant mothers of all ages. A teen pregnancy may also impact the baby. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that babies born to teens may have weaker intellectual development and lower skill set scores at kindergarten. They may also have ongoing medical issues and behavioral issues. Medical Complications
Medical complications often occur in pregnant teenagers, according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Too often, teens do not seek adequate medical care during the pregnancy. Complications that may occur during a teen pregnancy include anemia, toxemia, high blood pressure, placenta previa and premature birth of the baby. Ongoing medical care is crucial to prevent these complications from threatening the pregnancy and the mother’s well being. Emotional Crisis
A teenager may suffer an emotional crisis if she becomes pregnant and does not want the baby. This crisis may lead to rash behavior such as attempting to self-abort the baby or a suicide attempt.
Worries about Future
Uncertainty about the future may arise when a teen is pregnant. A teen may feel she does not have enough knowledge to be a mother. She may also have fears about how having a baby will impact her own life and dreams for the future. Delayed Education
Education may be put on hold when a teen becomes pregnant. Some pregnant teens may decide to leave high school. Others who were planning to attend college in the future may put off that experience after becoming pregnant. They may decide to focus on the baby or getting married rather than pursuing further education. Smoking & Drugs
Smoking and drug use may be problematic during a teen pregnancy. A teen may not have the willpower to stop using substances that can harm the developing baby. Exhaustion
Exhaustion may arise during a pregnancy. A pregnant teen should try to exercise during the pregnancy; however, if exhaustion arises it is important to know that this is often a normal part of pregnancy. Getting the standard 8 hours of sleep every night (or more) is important. Depression
Depression may arise when a teenager is pregnant. The teen may fall into a depression while trying to handle the emotions a pregnancy creates and all of the possibly negative feedback about the pregnancy from friends and family. The fluctuating hormones that a pregnancy causes may also prompt depression. Neglect of Baby
Once their baby is born, teenagers may not be willing or able to give it the undivided attention it needs. A teen may not be an adequate mother because she is overwhelmed by the constant needs of the baby. She may grow annoyed at the lack of freedom to interact with her peer group due to the baby. Trouble with Finances
Financial difficulty may arise during a teen pregnancy or after the baby is born. It is expensive to raise a baby. Teens who do not have full-time employment may struggle to cover the basic expenses of life upon having a baby.