LGU delivers nutritious foodstuffs, vitamin supplements to pregnant women in Sorsogon
By Benilda Recebido
SORSOGON CITY --- As adolescent expectant mothers are more vulnerable to risks and have higher nutritional needs than adult pregnant women, the provincial government of Sorsogon has prioritized the Kalusugan’s First 1,000 Days of Life Program for teenage pregnancies.
The term "first 1,000 days" refers to the period from conception until the child reaches the age of 2 years or 24 months. During this time, the child's brain, body and immune system undergo significant growth and development.
According to Grace Jardin, the provincial nutritionist, pregnant teenage girls face various difficulties and risks during and after pregnancy.
These include adverse effects on the health, nutrition and stress levels of both the mother and the child, which can lead to stunting and undernourishment, among other issues.
Furthermore, teenage pregnancies often result in premature births.
“This is what Governor Edwin Hamor would like the program to address. He wanted that each pregnant young girl be well taken care of in terms of maternal health and nutrition, as children of teenage mothers had a high prevalence of undernutrition,” Jardin said.
To sustain the program, the provincial government has allocated a total amount of P1.8 million for 2024.
In Sorsogon, out of 1,200 pregnant beneficiaries of the program, 283 or 23.58 percent are teenagers. The youngest of them is a 14-year-old girl from Bulan and Pilar towns.
Bulan, Pilar, and Castilla municipalities have the highest prevalence of teenage pregnancies in the province.
Last year, Sorsogon City recorded more than 100 cases in East and West Districts while 61 teenage pregnancies were recorded in Bacon District.
THE provincial government of Sorsogon guarantees that each pregnant teens are well taken cared of. (Photo: SPIO)
Teenage pregnancy refers to a situation where a woman under 20 years of age becomes pregnant. It typically includes teens between the ages of 15 and 19 but can also involve girls as young as 10. It is also known as teen pregnancy or adolescent pregnancy.
Kathryn shared how she was mentally tormented, frightened, and worried about telling her family and friends that she was pregnant.
“I felt isolated and depressed having no one to talk to and not getting the help and support I needed,” the 16-year-old expectant mother said, speaking to the Philippine Information Agency under an assumed name to protect her identity.
“I also have to drop out of school to hide my condition. I almost wanted to commit suicide then,” she said.
“One good thing is I was not cursed by my parents. Yes, I got reprimanded, but their guidance and referral to our health workers are more than enough to ease out my mental torture, though, at times, I still get anxious anticipating my giving birth,” she added.
The provincial government has partnered with civil society organizations to improve their information campaign about teenage pregnancy and its impact on young parents, especially mothers.
The Provincial Nutrition Council distributes 48,146 sachets of powdered milk, cereal, and cereal drinks to nutritionally at-risk pregnant women in the 14 municipalities and lone city of the Province of Sorsogon. Additionally, 1,036 beneficiaries from last year's dietary supplementation program received 1kg of mung beans or monggo, 11 sachets of chocolate drink, and ten sachets of powdered milk.
The program aims to identify pregnant teenagers and encourage them not to hide their pregnancy so they can receive proper intervention. The Barangay Nutrition Scholars closely monitor their condition to provide support.
“Much attention should be given to these pregnant teenagers because they are still growing, and their nutritional needs may compete with those of the developing fetus,” Jardin said.
The Provincial Nutrition Council has provided a dietary supplementation-feeding program for young women who require more nutrients compared to adult pregnant women.
They are also provided with ferrous sulfate, an iron supplement, which is crucial to improve their iron and folate status before and during their pregnancy.
Apart from this program, the Sangguniang Kabataan has also taken initiatives to strengthen the campaign against teenage pregnancies and early marriages by conducting interactive activities such as forums and seminars.
These activities aim to keep young people away from early pregnancies, which often result in hardships in life due to unplanned pregnancies or marriages. (PIA5-Sorsogon)