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Teenage Pregnancy Surges, 10-year-old Bears Twins 

Photo used for illustrative purpose

Photo used for illustrative purpose

It could be one of the most alarming stories about teenage pregnancy. Lydia is ten years old and she just had twins, earning her the nickname ‘’The Youngest Manyi in Town’’, meaning the youngest mother of twins.

Lydia had her male twins in the junction town of Mutengene in Fako Division in August this year. Rather than feel glad that she brought forth a healthy pair of twins, Lydia is now faced with rejection from her parents.

As if to add insult to injury, the guy who impregnated abandoned her. He left her with little choice but to live with her grandmother.

Dropping out of school has been the thorns to crown Lydia’s woes. She has had to start thinking of earning money to raise her boys.

Lydia is not the lone teenager who has become pregnant against her wish. Ngenge Solange became pregnant when she was just fifteen. She had lost her mother when she was only five and grew up with an uncle who shunned discussing matters concerning sex with her.

She said whenever she approached her uncle, he would forbid her from talking so she had to turn to friends for ‘advice’.

Ngenge confessed that she was too naive to make any good decisions on sex all by herself. This resulted in her being misinformed, which led her into early pregnancy.

Not so for eighteen-year-old Nkotte Jessicca, a ‘’Mut teen’,’ as Mutengene teenagers are usually called, almost died while trying to commit abortion.

Nkotte said she wanted to get rid of the pregnancy no matter the means she employed. According to Nkotte, she took sachet whisky commonly called ‘Fighter’ to cause her to abort. Nokotte said she drank six sachets of Fighter and started bleeding immediately afterwards.

Fertile Ground For Early Pregnancy

In Muea, as in Mutengene, many teenage girls fall prey to early pregnancy. Muea, which is just ten minutes’ drive from Mutengene, has about 5,000 inhabitants. The main economic activities here are farming and trading, with a sprinkling of civil servants.

With many immigrants, Muea is a boiling pot of diversity. Overflowing with steaming bars and a hectic nightlife, Muea, like Mutengene, is fertile ground for teen pregnancies. Added to this are peer pressure, the glamorization of pregnancy by the movie industry and the media.

According to Akum, a teenage mother, the lack of sex education, which most parents in Muea consider taboo, sexual abuse and rape also facilitate teen pregnancy.

To Ketcha Beatrice of the Sub-divisional Hospital Muea, other causes of teenage pregnancy include ignorance of the consequences of early pregnancy, excitement to try sexual activities, exposure to bad habits like pornography and accommodation problems where parents live in the same room with their children.

In Muea, for example, about two-thirds of teenagers are victims of early pregnancy. Statistics from the Sub-divisional Hospital, twenty-five cases of teenage pregnancy were recorded from January to July, not to mention those that do not consult at all.

In Mutengene, approximately 50 percent of teenagers aged between 11 and 19 years become pregnant each year, said Mrs. Kelesi Gladys, a midwife at the Mbingo Baptist Hospital Annex in Mutengene.

According to Mrs. Kelesi, 50 percent of teenage pregnancy in the community is caused by naivety and peer pressure.

To her, teenagers in Mutengene often feel pressured to make friends and fit in with their peers, and by so doing this they allow their friends to influence their decision on whether to have sex or not even when they do not fully understand the consequences associated to the act.

Illiteracy and teenage drinking are also some of the causes of teenage pregnancy.

“Drinking lowers a teenager’s ability to control her impulses, contributing to 75 percent of pregnancy that occurs by the age of 14 to 19,” said Mrs. Ndikitum Pascaline, a nurse at the Mbingo Baptist Hospital Annex.

Social Implications

Teenage pregnancy bears with it an assortment of implications; dropping out of school, stigmatization, discrimination and often, the author of pregnancy abandons the teenager which sometimes tempts her to abort, says Bella Asoh, a victim of early pregnancy.

They are also more likely not to receive appropriate prenatal care as they are afraid to tell their parents about their pregnancy and cannot afford prenatal care themselves.

Risks

The risks of teenage motherhood are many, according to medical practitioners.
Ketcha Beatrice of the Sub-divisional Hospital Muea says teenage pregnancy has varied medical and social implications.

She says a teenager may give birth to a premature baby, have miscarriage, develop hypertension, difficult labour, fistula, drop out of school which might lead to poverty, and with unprotected sex, the teenage mother maybe infected with STDs [Sexually Transmitted Diseases] like HIV/AIDS.

According to Ndikitum, teenage pregnancy has led to medical complications within the years.

“Most often, pregnant teenagers do not seek adequate medical care during their pregnancy due to lack of money, and shame, among others. This may lead to complications that may occur during the pregnancy like placenta previa (when placenta is next to or covering cervix, which may cause bleeding), high blood pressure, premature births and other complications,” says Ndikitum.

She adds, “These complications would require ongoing medical care to prevent them from affecting the baby and the mother.”

More so, approximately 90 percent of those teenage mothers in Mutengene suffer trauma; emotional crisis. This crisis may lead to harsh behaviours from the teens such as attempting to abort or kill themselves.

They also get pregnancy-induced hypertension as well as pre-eclampsia much more often than pregnant women who are in their 20s or 30s.


Prevention

Mama Charlotte, a mother of six, explains teenage pregnancy can be prevented if parents have sex talks with their children on how to behave and respect themselves, encourage abstinence laying down the consequences of sexual activities and avoid making sex a taboo subject.

The government could also step in and do something to help educate teenagers on early pregnancy and its consequences.

By Sandra Achalefac & Nji Kimberly (UB Journalism Students on Internship)

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