Young girls falling pregnant earlier

Young girls are getting pregnant at an even earlier age, a healthcare project at a school in Nakhon Phanom has revealed, with the youngest reported in May to be only 10 years old.

Students show their affection at a public park.

Supannee Saenkuan, a teacher at Nakhon Phanom Wittayakom School who operates a teenage heathcare project, said a meeting on youth problems in the province revealed that young girls were getting pregnant at a much earlier age than before.

A nurse from Ban Phaeng hospital said a 10-year-old girl gave birth to a baby at the hospital. Ms Supannee said her inquiries found that girls were starting to menstruate at a much earlier age, and this opened them to the risk of unwanted pregnancies when they were far too young.

The survey showed that students at secondary school level (Mathayom 1-3) were at the highest risk of using drugs, followed by having sex far too early, while those in high school were at high risk from sex issues.

Ms Supannee said about 40 of the 2,700 students in the school sought consultations during the project. Half of them were prematurely pregnant and two of them had an abortion.

Students also revealed that more of them were using classrooms to develop private relationships with lovers.

One young student who fell pregnant said she got assistance from teachers, and finally she gave birth and later came back to continue her studies. Now she helps give advice to younger students on methods of protection, and warns them not to have sex when they are not ready to accept a possible pregnancy.  

Public Health Ministry statistics show that in 2011, 370 girls younger than 20 gave birth each day on average and 10 of them were younger than 15 years, on average.

The ministry has implemented a pilot project, with participation from 134 hospitals nationwide, to monitor the abortion situation in Thailand. It found that in 2011, 53% of patients seeking an abortion were teenagers and 30% of them were mathayom students or university students.

Public Health Minister Pradit Sintawanarong said the strategy in attacking the problem of unplanned pregnancy in young girls will focus on providing knowledge on methods of protection. It would be extremely difficult to prevent teenagers from having sex, he said. 

The ministry will use social media to reach youth and provide information on protection, which may include distribution of condoms.

He said there will be a study on the possible amendment of regulations to remove barriers to access contraception and those related to solving unplanned early pregnancy, such as the ban on the morning after pill. However, there must be discussions with the Medical Council of Thailand to set clear a direction on usage and control to prevent misuse. 

Then there must also be consideration on whether the ministry will go ahead in legalising the so-called abortion pill or not.

Related search: teen pregnancy, public health ministry, unplanned pregnancy

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