33 000 teen births in Gauteng

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health

33 260 teenage mothers gave birth in Gauteng in the three years from 2011 to 2013, which is about one in twenty of all births in Gauteng.

This information is revealed by Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.

The number of babies born in Gauteng state hospitals to teenage mothers is given as follows:

2011 – 11 227 (5.5% of all births)

2012 – 10 457 (5% of all births)

2013 – 11 576 (5.4% of all births)

This is a worryingly high number of teen births which appears to be stable rather than increasing or decreasing.

Mahlangu notes that the “majority of teenage mothers do not attend early antenatal care, therefore are in danger of obstetric haemorrhage, miscarriage, developing gestational hypertension, developing anaemia, deliver preterm babies and deliver by caesarean section (with anaesthetic complications)”.

I requested a breakdown of teenage mothers under 15 years old, but such a record is not kept.

It would be useful to monitor very young mothers more closely so as to guide intervention efforts in problem areas.

Children having children is a great concern, often destroying the life chances of both, particularly with regard to acquiring a good education.

These figures show that many young women are having unprotected sex, which raises the risk of contracting HIV/Aids.

We need to do more to cut down on teen births for both health and social reasons.