According to the State Bureau of Statistics, 23 girls aged under the age of 15 gave birth in 2011, while in 2012 the number of these girls is 26.
More and more girls give birth, and another concerning fact is that the age boundary of these girls is getting lower. Specific hospital data state that there are cases of 13-year-old girls who gave birth. The official statistics are even more alarming. The number of 15-year-old mothers is increasing. According to the State Bureau of Statistics, 23 girls aged under the age of 15 gave birth in 2011, while in 2012 the number of these girls is 26. Although there is a slight decrease in the number, the state with teenage pregnancies of girls aged 15 to 19 is not getting any better. In 2011, 1310 girls aged 15 to 19 became mothers, which is around 140 girls less than 2010, when 1455 girls, aged 15 to 19, became mothers. Last year, 22700 babies were born in Macedonia.
The experts say that in 2012 the rate of underage pregnancy (15 – 19 years) in the countries in the region is above the average of the EU countries. In Macedonia, the rate of teenage pregnancy is 13 per 1000 women, which is still a smaller number compared to 2010 when, according to the UN report, it was 20 per 1000 women.
The Gynecology Clinic, where girls give birth mostly because of high risk pregnancies, says that in the last two years the youngest woman to give birth was 14 years old. Clinical gynecologists, however, remember that three or four years ago, a 13 year old girl gave birth in their institution, who then gave the baby up for adoption. According to data from the clinic, in 2012, 48 girls gave birth, out of which three were 14 years old and the rest 45 patients were aged between 14 and 17. Thirteen teenage girls had an abortion – two aged 16 and the other 11 were also underage.
Since the beginning of the year, one patient, aged 14, terminated her pregnancy, and also 7 other teenage girls terminated theirs. “Our country is probably not the only one with these numbers of underage mothers, and the number shows that there is a need for additional measures in the educational system,” states the Gynecology Clinic.
They add that the most common cases of teenage pregnancy are girls from the Roma population, who have overdue pregnancies and give birth, but there are also patients from other ethnicities.
“The mutual thing is the insufficient awareness before entering into sexual relations, which is important because of the consequences, such as unplanned pregnancy and STD” – states the clinic. The country has many counseling centers, but the counseling should be a continuous process that will follow the development of both the boys and girls. “Especially since the consequences of such an early pregnancy can be serious not only for their physical health, but also for the psychological development of the young person,” – emphasized the clinic. Moreover, these pregnancies are accompanied by a high risk of premature delivery, growth retardation of the fetus and hypertension in pregnancy.
The Gynecologic hospital “Cair” informs is how many underage girls were pregnant and gave birth. “We have 15-year-old teenage girls who gave birth, everyone under this age are treated in our clinic because of the high risk for the mothers’ health,” said the director of the special hospital “Cair”, Dr. Menduh Egeni.
The gynecologists and the NGO sector, say that the problem with teenage pregnancy is not only a problem in Macedonia, but also in the developed countries. We should work systematically on its reduction, primarily because we need to protect the health of the young people. A lot of reasons are influencing the problem – besides the low education of the young people on how to protect themselves from unwanted pregnancies, another influence is the poverty and the inaccessible contraception. One of the measures proposed by the gynecologists is for the girls to have counseling with their own doctor gynecologist. Especially since the legal regulation allows 12-year-old girls to have a personal gynecologist.
“The young people should go to a gynecologist and consult about the use of contraceptive measures. The type of contraception is individual and the best thing to do is for the girls to go to the gynecologist with their mothers, so that they could receive an ideal advice about the protection from unwanted pregnancy”, is the explanation from the personal gynecologists.
Bojan Jovanovski, director at HERA – an NGO that’s been working on sexual education for many years, says that more systematically organized measures are necessary in order to improve the sexual education and reproductive health of the young people and teenagers.
“We should work on raising the level of sexual education in the schools. Obviously, the school subject Life Skills is not educating the youth as much as necessary. We offered a manual which would raise the level of education and will open bigger discussions on this issue,” said Jovanovski and added that they work in two youth counseling centers in Skopje. But, according to him, these centers are not sufficient, and he is not sure how the centers for reproductive health in the Centers for public health function, and there are 14 of them in the country.
According to the statistics, less than 2% of the young mothers visited a counseling center, and they told their parents about their pregnancy when it was already too late.
Jovanovski is not sure how the counseling with the personal gynecologists functions, because they have huge responsibilities after the privatization, and inadequate income, so they don’t have a lot of time for the young people.
“Instead of just advertisements for birthrate and against abortion, we need advertisements for contraception and other protection from unwanted pregnancy,” says Jovanovski and adds that there has not been a good strategy for the reproductive health of the young people in the past 10 years.
Danger of illegal abortions
There are no precise estimations how many of the abortions are performed illegally. Some say that the number is the same as legal abortions.
“We are not only worried about the number of underage pregnancy, but also because a large number of these pregnancies end up with criminal abortions in private clinics. Out of fear from the parents, i.e. because of embarrassment and stigma, they decide to have risky illegal abortions. The pregnancy itself, in underage girls, is with a higher risk. The abortion is an aggressive method for their bodies, because they can cause severe complications compared with older women. The dangers of abortion are sepsis, breaking of the uterus, sterility, and death,” say the gynecologists.
In the UN report, there are no data on the use of contraception in Macedonia until 2010. In 2011, a research was made by UNICEF, conducted in the country with the help of the relevant ministries. According to this study, only 13% of the women in the country use some kind of modern contraception.
The most popular method is “pulling out” which is used by 1 in 4 women in Macedonia. The next most popular method is the condom, used by 8% of these women. 2% of the women stated that they use IUD (intrauterine device) and periodical abstinence, 2% use contraceptive pills, and 0.7% had female sterilization. Less than 0.5% use injections, implants or male sterilization.
The information is taken from: