• Teenage pregnancy in Albay on upswing

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    LEGAZPI CITY: Prevalence of teenage pregnancy in Bicol region specifically in Albay province is on a roller coaster rise in the past four years despite relentless education campaign of the government and pro-Reproductive Health advocates here.

    In 2009, teenage pregnancy produced 1,259 total births based on the record of local civil registry here. But there was increasing teenage pregnancies posted in two consecutive years beginning in 2010 with 1,604 and 2011 with 1,699 births.

    Last year, teenage pregnancy waned with 1,571 births but most alarming is that the mothers are getting younger, Miguel de la Rama of Albay’s United Nations Population Fund focal person told The Manila Times.

    “Majority of the teenage pregnancies occurs among high school students. The youngest case is that of a 12-year-old,” he told The Manila Times.

    Guinobatan town and the two cities of Albay—Ligao and Tabaco-are saddled with highest cases of teenage pregnancy prevalence, de la Rama said.

    “Teenage pregnancy is dramatically increasing but there are no comprehensive services available so far,” he said.

    The provincial population density is 480 per square kilometer., which makes it 10th in terms of national population density. In 2010, Albay had a population of 1.23 million.

    De la Rama explained that the great danger of teen pregnancy is fetal death. Health statistics show that fetal deaths are more likely to happen with young mothers because their babies tend to have low birth weight and to suffer deficiencies or birth defects.

    Too, teenage mothers may resort to abortion to terminate an unwanted pregnancy, raising their risk of tetanus poisoning, adverse drug reaction, and other complications related to abortion.

    It may also cause cervical cancer as women who engaged in sex before 18 years old, had a pregnancy at 18 or younger, had at least five sexual partners, or had a partner who had at least five sexual partners are at increased risk of acquiring HPV or human papillomavirus, the main cause of cervical cancer that skills one Filipina every eight minutes, de la Rama said.

    Similarly, teenage mothers are less likely to seek regular prenatal care because of shame over their condition thus less likely to take the recommended daily multivitamins and minerals needed to nourish their baby.

    The rising number of teenage pregnancies in the country is among the concerns of pro-RH advocates as this situation exposes adolescent women (10 to 19 years old) at high risk.

    He said that a strong advocacy campaign is needed to educate young women about the dangers posed by early pregnancies to youngsters, sex education and other reproductive health subjects.

    The teenage pregnancy rate in the Philippines is the highest among Asean’s six major economies at 53 births per 1,000 women aged between 15 and 19, according to the United Nations Population Fund’s 2011 annual report released.

    Teen pregnancy concern if not given focus would derail and affect the target implementation of the Millennium Development Goal by 2015, the report said.

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