Teenage pregnancy in Peru is a serious matter that according to a Peruvian Health Ministry study, 12. 5% of Peruvian teenagers between 15 and 19 years old have been pregnant at least once, which seems to be quite alarming. Of that percentage 9. 9% are already mothers and the other 2. 6% are pregnant for the first time (ENDES, 2011). This same poll also states that the 33. 9% of adolescents which are already moms or are pregnant have only primary education and the 22. 4% live in poverty.
This numbers show how critical is the Peruvian situation regarding to this issue and that these figures have to be reduced as soon as possible, because teenage pregnancy decreases not only the development of the country but also the opportunities for study and professional development of these girls. Teenage pregnancy has been a problem that hasn’t decreased significantly in the last years in Peru, and this must become a priority for the government and the society itself because a several number of these unwanted pregnancies can be avoided if we pay due attention.
Teenage pregnancies carry different problems, not only for the child but also for the mother, as James E. Rosen (WHO) stated that teens that are less than 16 years old are at risk of maternal death four times more than women between 20 to 30 years, and the mortality rate of infants is approximately 50% higher. Moreover, health experts agree that pregnant adolescents require special physical and psychological care during pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period to preserve their own health as their babies’ health too.
Not only they are in a higher death risk, but also, according to reports from the Department of Epidemiology of the Health Ministry (Minsa) 39% of the indirect causes of maternal deaths of teenagers between 15 to 19 years were caused by suicide and 20% were caused by pneumonia, which affects mostly those living in poverty. This shows that teenage pregnancy carries severe problems, that can’t be taken lightly since the life of girls and babies are at risk.
Even though, this September was held the Fourth Forum ‘Uniting Voices for Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention’ which was part of the Week of Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention we are still very far away to end this problem. Because everyone has the right to a decent quality of life and unplanned pregnancies show that Peru inequities remain, despite the efforts that may have occurred. This is why we need to make sure that social inclusion reach even the poorest teenagers, and every year government and private institutions get more involved trying to find a solution to this problem.
But this is not only the government’s duty but also, of every parent. Unfortunately, most parents wonder when is a good time to start talking to their children about sexual education, and it seems to be that most of the time they do it too late. An ENDES study revealed that 47% of adolescents in Peru have started sexual intercourse before age 14. I recommend parents to converse with their children about sex, so their kids can feel free to ask any doubt they might have.
Moreover, with this conversation parents will be aware of the opinions of their children about sex and how informed they are about the subject. Parents must help their kids to build a life project and make them clear that to achieve their goals they have to go one step at a time, and always think before acting. I also suggest that parents should not prohibit their kids to have sex, because this will only bring the opposite effect and it is probable that the kids will start hiding things to their parents and will refuse to have conversations about sex with them.
Parents should always make sure that their children know the different methods to have safe sex and also help them to choose the best one for them. Even though teenage pregnancy is a really difficult issue to deal with, every year the government is trying to make people aware of all the consequences this kind of pregnancies might bring to the mother, the baby and society. It is very important that we try to share these facts with the people around us and also support persons that might need help.
I expect that the government, institutions and society get more involved with this matter in the following years, because by doing this, not only people will be helped but also lives will be saved.
Works Cited INEI. ENDES, Demographic and Family Health Poll. 2011. World Health Organization (WHO). Adolescent pregnancy: a culturally complex issue. June, 2009. Issler, Juan R. Pregnancy in adolescence. August, 2001.