Teen pregnancies linked to income

National 2 minutes, 7 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

MOST teens who get pregnant in Brunei come from low-income households, according to a Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) study.

Prapaporn Langputeh, a PhD student from UBD’s Pengiran Anak Puteri Rashidah Sa’adatul Bolkiah Institute of Health Sciences (PAPRSB IHS), said young women from low-income families are getting pregnant at a higher rate than those from middle and upper-income families.

She said figures show at least 200 unplanned teenage pregnancies in Brunei being recorded every year, with most of these young women from low-income households.

Speaking on the sidelines of a recent dialogue with nurses and midwives at the Women and Children’s Centre in Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha (RIPAS) Hospital, Prapaporn said around four per cent of an average 7,000 annual births in the sultanate are attributed to unplanned teenage pregnancies.

Prapaporn recently conducted a study on the challenges of pregnant Muslim teenagers in Brunei-Muara district.

“We found that they relied (financially) on their families and stayed with their extended families,” she said, adding that the teen mothers were all within the age group of 16-19 when they had their first child.

She said her study involved 26 participants, including six teen mothers, seven women who got pregnant in their teen years and 13 of their family members, adding that she had approached them through the Ministry of Religious Affairs’ Family Counselling Service Section.

Prapaporn said face-to-face interviews were conducted with the participants to find out their challenges as teen parents.

“They were willing to talk more when we held one-on-one interviews rather than with their families and spouses,” she said.

She added that most of the spouses of the teen mothers were earning little, noting that some still relied on their families for financial support.

“We found that the husbands earned as little as $500 a month,” she said, adding that the highest paid spouse received not more than $1,300.

In the last decade, 3,700 teenage pregnancies were reported to the Ministry of Health’s Maternal and Child Health Clinic.

She said while around 280 teenagers become pregnant every year in Brunei and account for only around four per cent of the country’s annual birth rate, it is a persistent social issue in the Bruneian community.

“Four per cent may seem small, but it’s still a problem. It must be addressed,” she said, adding that it is important to introduce reproductive health education in schools.

“Sex education is not a promotion of early sexual behaviour. In fact, it’s a preventive measure for young adults. We must understand this,” she added.

The Brunei Times