Early pregnancy cases in Bicol continue to rise

LEGAZPI CITY --- Cases of early pregnancy in the Bicol region have continued to rise and caused alarm among authorities as the youngest reported mother is a 10-year old child from Camarines Sur out of the 12, 498 reported cases in the region, Josephine Chua, Population Commission spokesperson said.

Data from the Population Commission (POPCOM) Bicol showed that the youngest cases of early pregnancies were a 10-year old child and four 11-year-old children in the provinces of Camarines Sur with one case, one in Camarines Norte, another one in Masbate, and two cases in Sorsogon.

Aside from these cases, the Population office noted an increasing trend in teen early pregnancy among the 12 to 15 years old age bracket.

In Albay province, cases of early pregnancies were recorded: one case of a 12-year-old girl; and 10 cases of 13-years old girls; two cases in Camarines Norte; four in Camarines Sur; and two in Masbate.

For the 14-years old age bracket, 58 cases were reported and 289 cases were recorded for the 15-years old age bracket.

The POPCOM figures also showed that Camarines Sur is consistent with high cases of teenage pregnancy for both 14 and 15- years old age brackets, followed by Albay, Camarines Norte, Sorsogon, Masbate and Catanduanes.

For 16-years old, 854 cases were listed; 2,348 cases for 17-years old; 3,580 cases for 18-years old; and 5,342 cases for the 19- years age bracket.

These data, Chua said, is based on the 2015 statistical survey as there is no new survey conducted in the country.

In May 2015, the Department of Health (DOH) data showed that one in three Filipino youth has engaged in premarital sex. In the Bicol region, research showed that 8.8 percent of the youth has engaged in premarital sex.

In terms of sexually active youth, the Bicol region is ranked second, with the National Capital Region (NCR) ranking first with 40.9 percent and the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) ranked last with 7.7 percent.

Over the decades, the prevalence of teenage pregnancy increased on sexual risk behaviors specifically premarital sex.

A report of the POPCOM said that the implementation of a Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) program can keep the risk of unintended pregnancy among Filipino adolescents from accelerating beyond imagination.

High cases of teen pregnancies can also impact on the education, economic conditions and the future of young Filipino women and their families, the report said.

Teen pregnancies among young people aged 15 to 19-years old are on the upswing with a record of 209,872 cases from 2014, according to the 2014 Vital Registry of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), and likely to be higher in the succeeding years.

In 2011, there were 203,653 reported cases, equivalent to an increase of 6,219 cases within a three year period.

The top three regions with the highest incidence of teen pregnancy in the country are: CALABARZON (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon) with 28,605 cases; Metro Manila, 26,606 cases; and Central Luzon, 24,729 cases.

Region XI registered 12,195 cases during the same period, while the rest had average over- or below 10,000 reported cases in their regions:

Cases of teen pregnancy in other regions are: Central Visayas, 16,708; Western Visayas, 12,736; Bicol region, 12,719; Northern Mindanao, 11,971; SOCCSKSARGEN (South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos City), 10,721; Ilocos Region, 10,398; Cagayan Valley, 9,285; and Eastern Visayas, 9,155.

Across developing countries, the United Nations Population Fund said that 7.3 million females under the age of 18 give birth every year.