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Teen Pregnancy in the Philippines: A National Problem

Teen Pregnancy in the Philippines: A National Problem

Teenage pregnancy, also called adolescent pregnancy, refers to pregnancies by women, aged 19 years and below. Teenage pregnancy is risky, because the female’s body at that age has not yet reached full maturity. This can lead to complications during pregnancy, labor, and delivery.

Teenagers who get pregnant often do not seek and get the right prenatal care, which may lead to health complications later during the course of their pregnancy. These can lead to:

  • Pregnancy-related high blood pressure
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Anemia
  • Premature birth of their baby
  • Low birth weight for their child
  • Malnutrition
  • Higher risk for abdominal delivery

Teen pregnancy in the Philippines statistics

The Population Commission (POPCOM) reported that 24 babies are born to teenage mothers every hour. About 200,000 teens in the Philippines get pregnant annually, most of whom are 15 to 19 years of age. The World Bank notes that every year, 47 per 1,000 births from women in the Philippines are from mothers aged 15-19.

Most alarming is the fact that there were at least 2,000 10- to 14-year-old Filipinas who became pregnant in 2017. There was also a 63% jump in the number of births delivered by 10- to 14-year-old teenage mothers, in data that was compared from 2011 and 2018.

This rate of teen pregnancy in the Philippines reflects sexual abuse in minors. According to the Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development Foundation, Inc., adolescent reproductive health and teenage pregnancy is connected to sexual violence. POPCOM also reports that 130,000 teenage pregnancies were with fathers aged 20 years and above. Following this, teen pregnancy is a phenomenon that must not be taken lightly.

 

Teen pregnancy in the Philippines

There is still a social stigma with teenage pregnancy in the Philippines. More often, they are forced by their families into marriage to avoid the shame of being an unwed mother. However, these usually result in more stress inflicted on the mother emotionally, which increases the risk of maternal complications. This may lead to low survival rates of both mother and child.

It further perpetuates cyclical poverty and economic inequality, as it prevents majority of teen parents from continuing with their education.

The birth rate also contributes to overpopulation. Overpopulation stretches resources, and may force families living under the poverty level to further disenfranchisement.

Factors causing teen pregnancy in the Philippines

Though there is no single cause for the rate of teen pregnancy in the Philippines, there is a combination of biological, social, and cultural factors that can be noted:

  • Biological. Teenagers become curious about sex and their sexuality.
  • Social. This includes lack of sex education and how to effectively protect themselves from getting pregnant and contracting sexually transmitted infections. The lack of access to family planning services is also a big problem.
  • Cultural. Parents in the Philippines are not comfortable with discussing sex with their teenagers. There is also the culture of encouraging teens to get married early as a means to become more financially stable.

Filipinas should be given the right to make decisions about their own reproductive health, in order to protect their wellbeing and to reduce the risk of teen pregnancy in the Philippines. Women should be able to have access to the right healthcare services, sex education, and ways and means to protect themselves from unwanted pregnancies as well as STIs.

Effects and risks

When a girl becomes pregnant, there are lifelong effects and risks that need to be addressed

  • Young mothers may be forced to stop going to school in order to take care of their children. When a teenager becomes pregnant, her schooling will be interrupted. At worst, she will no longer be able to finish her education.
  • There are many health risks to teenage pregnancy, such as gestational diabetes and pregnancy-induced high blood pressure.
  • There is also an increase in maternal complications that could lead to the mother’s death during delivery of the baby.
  • Due to the fact that a teenager’s body is not yet mature enough to handle a baby, the chances of premature birth or stillbirth is high.
  • A teenager’s mental health is also put at risk as pregnancy at this age often puts stress on relationships. The mood swings, sleepiness, and physical changes can affect a teenager’s emotional health.

Why do we need to curb teen pregnancy in the Philippines?

A healthy teenage pregnancy is possible. However, most teenage pregnancies suffer from a multitude of stressors, health risks, and other potential complications. Aside from the negative effects on the physical and mental health of a teenage mom, teenage pregnancy has an economic effect on the country.

As of 2019, the Philippine currently holds the top spot with regards to the number of teenage pregnancies among the six major economies of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN.) The Philippines continues to see a rise in the number of teenage pregnancies, whereas other countries are seeing a decrease in theirs.

As of 2021, the proposed Prevention of Adolescent Pregnancy Act is being pushed to pass into law. It proposes the creation of a Teenage Pregnancy Prevention Council, and pushes for comprehensive sex education and more social services for teen parents.

Key takeaway

The teenage pregnancy rates of a country reflect certain cultural, social, and economic statuses. In developed countries, the numbers of teenage pregnancies are on a steady decrease. In third world countries, teenage pregnancy remains to be a problem, especially as reproductive health laws, sex education, and birth control are not made readily available. With this, the rates of teen pregnancy in the Philippines are expected to remain high.

 

Learn more about sexual wellness here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

DepEd: High dropout rate due to teenage pregnancy, https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2019/09/05/1949246/deped-high-dropout-rate-due-teenage-pregnancy 

Accessed April 27, 2020

 

Teenage Pregnancy, https://medlineplus.gov/teenagepregnancy.html 

Accessed April 27, 2020

 

More girls aged 10-14 get pregnant in the Philippines —POPCOM, https://www.gmanetwork.com/news/news/nation/726028/more-girls-aged-10-14-get-pregnant-in-the-philippines-popcom/story/

Accessed April 27, 2020

 

Nearly 200,000 Filipino teens get pregnant annually: POPCOM, https://news.abs-cbn.com/spotlight/07/11/19/nearly-200000-filipino-teens-get-pregnant-annually-popcom 

Accessed April 27, 2020

 

Teenage pregnancy worsening in PH, https://mb.com.ph/2019/10/29/teenage-pregnancy-worsening-in-ph/

Accessed April 27, 2020

 

The risks of teenage pregnancy, https://pia.gov.ph/features/articles/1026925 

Accessed April 27, 2020

 

About Teen Pregnancy, https://www.cdc.gov/teenpregnancy/about/index.htm

Accessed April 27, 2020

 

Teenage pregnancy, https://plan-international.org/sexual-health/teenage-pregnancy

Accessed April 27, 2020

 

Save the Children calls on the passage of Teenage Pregnancy Bill as the world celebrates International Day of the Girl, https://reliefweb.int/report/philippines/save-children-calls-passage-teenage-pregnancy-bill-world-celebrates-international 

Accessed April 27, 2020

 

Lawmaker ‘optimistic’ current Congress will pass teen pregnancies prevention bill, https://www.rappler.com/nation/lawmaker-optimistic-teen-pregnancies-prevention-bill-pass-congress

Accessed April 8, 2021

 

Eliminating TeenagePregnancy in the Philippines, https://philippines.unfpa.org/sites/default/files/pub-pdf/UNFPA_Policy_Brief_Teenage_Pregnancy_%282020-01-24%29.pdf

Accessed April 8, 2021

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Medically reviewed by Hello Doctor Medical Panel
Written by Kathy Kenny Ylaya Ngo
Updated Yesterday
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