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By Perci Cendaña

Youth Advocate

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

THE symbolic 100 millionth Filipino, baby Chonalyn, was born July 27, 2014, 12:35 a.m. at Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital in Manila. On the same morning, according to the Commission on Population (PopCom) Region II, a few minutes earlier at 12:06 a.m., a baby girl was born in Tuguegarao City. Her name is baby Zyrille and she most probably is the 100 millionth Filipino.

Her mother is just 17 years old.

Baby Zyrille represents the almost 600 babies delivered in the Philippines daily by adolescent and teenage mothers. The incidence of teen pregnancy in the country has doubled from 6.3 percent in 2002 to 13.6 percent in 2013. In Region II, where baby Zyrille was born, the incidence is above the national average where the rate is pegged at 18.1 percent.


If the Philippines has a "gold medal" when it comes to the rate of increase of teen pregnancy in Southeast Asia, the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) could be considered as the teen pregnancy "gold medalist" in the country. CAR registered the highest incidence in 2013 with 18.4 percent. This means that almost one in five childbirths in the region is by young women and girls 19 years old and below.

The situation especially in CAR is problematic for teen pregnancy results in a number of complications. Medical experts say that early pregnancy is a double-edged sword. It is dangerous for both the mother and the baby.

Pregnancies of those younger than 18 years old are generally considered high risk. Pregnant teens have a higher risk of pregnancy-induced hypertension than women in their 20s and 30s. Also, they have a higher risk of pre-eclampsia, a dangerous medical condition that combines high blood pressure, swelling of hands and face of the mother, and organ damage. This could lead to the death of both the young mother and the baby. The percentage of maternal mortality or deaths due to pregnancy-related complications has doubled in the past decade.

As adolescents, they are still growing and have not reached physical maturity. Their pelvises may still be too narrow to accommodate the baby's head during delivery. This could lead to prolonged labor or obstructed delivery that increases the risk of bleeding and infection.

Studies show that babies born to adolescent mothers are more likely to be premature, of low birth weight, and to suffer consequences of retarded fetal growth. Stillbirth or the birth of an infant that has died in the womb is more common among adolescent mothers than older mothers.

Adolescent pregnancy exposes teenage girls to a number of health risks, a condition that is not only dangerous but could also be fatal. This is alarming, very alarming.

In next week's column, the socio-economic impact of teen pregnancy.


#FixSK. Young people of Baguio City and CAR joined the national movement to push for the immediate approval of the SK Reform Law. In a press conference last Monday, youth leaders in the region led by Jason Balag-ey, the Cordillera Youth Leaders, and the alumni of the National Parliament of Youth Leaders (NYP10) launched the Cordillera leg of the #FixSK campaign which will culminate in the #FixSK National Day of Action on August 12, International Youth Day.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on August 07, 2014.


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