Over 3,000 teen pregnancies in 10 years

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THE Maternal and Child Health Clinic has recorded over 3,000 teen pregnancies in 10 years, including an 11-year-old girl becoming the youngest mother in Brunei, a medical officer at the Health Promotion Centre said.

Dr Hjh Norol-Ehsan Hj Abd Hamid said a total of 3,405 teen pregnancies were reported from 2004 to 2013.

She said that even though the number of teen pregnancies seemed high, it does not give a clear picture as there are still those who are not registered at the health clinic.

The medical officer gave a talk on infectious diseases and teen pregnancies to Sayyidina Husain Secondary School students and staff yesterday.

She went on to say that the teen birth rate has declined almost continuously over the past decade, noting the drop of 456 unplanned teen pregnancies in 2004 to 264 in 2013. While there was a drop in the pregnancy rate for the 10-19 age group from 2004 and 2013, she said reported cases of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in the sultanate have increased.

Dr Hjh Norol-Ehsan said statistics showed that there were 50 reported cases of teens suffering from STIs in 2000, while 68 cases were recorded in 2010.

Even though there’s only been an increase of 18 cases within a span of 10 years, the numbers are still alarming, she added.

“You may think you like someone so much that you engage in sexual activities with your girlfriend or boyfriend, but you must remember the risks and consequences that come with it,” she told the Year Nine students.

“What if you impregnate someone’s daughter or become pregnant just because you’re too in the moment? Who is going to be held accountable for the child? You must be responsible for your behaviour,” she continued.

The medical officer added that adolescents who are exposed to early sexual experiences are influenced by what they see on the media or even friends.

“With the easy access of media, you may feel curious to know more about sex or how it feels like, so that’s why youngsters engage in illicit activities despite it being forbidden by Islam,” she said.

Speaking to The Brunei Times, Dr Hjh Norol-Ehsan said she hoped the students would be able to share the knowledge with their peers who may not know about the consequences of having multiple sex partners.

“Some of the students don’t talk about it openly with their parents at home, so instead they talk among their friends and some of the information shared may not be accurate. Hopefully today will give them a more accurate outlook on teenage pregnancy and sex,” she said. A total of 216 students from Sayyidina Husain Secondary school attended the talk, which was held to raise awareness on the effects of unplanned pregnancy.

The Brunei Times