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Supporting “World Population Day,” “Investing in Teenage Girl’s Future”

  • Data Source:Ministry of Health and Welfare
  • Created:2016-07-11
  • Last Updated:2017-01-10

Childbirth under 20 May Affect Newborn’s Health 
Every year, July 11 is World Population Day, established by the United Nations. This year (2016), its theme is “Investing in teenage girls.” In response to the event, the Health Promotion Administration (HPA) conducted analyses on childbirth data for domestic teenage girls under the age of 20, based on their Birth Certificate Application. The analysis found that childbirth for teenage girls under 20 may cause health problems to newborn babies. The HPA calls on the public to raise concern about the issue of teenage childbirth. 
With the global population growing to over 5 billion on July 11, 1987, in 1989, in Resolution No.89/46, the Governing Council of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) established the July 11 World Population Day, appealing to the international community to pay attention to urgent and important population issues . 
On World Population Day this year, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) called on all societies to be aware of issues related to teenage girls, mainly aiming to put an end to early marriage of teenage girls, limit teenage pregnancy and empower teenage girls, so that they can make wise choices for their own health and lives. The UNFPA stated that if teenage girls can fully understand and implement their rights of sexual and reproductive health, to get better health care, they then have a better chance to stay in school to study and earn higher incomes. If teenage girls in different societies can be empowered to fully develop their potential, receiving good educations and maintaining good health, their offspring will also benefit by growing up even stronger, and the society will be more prosperous. 

3,230 Taiwanese Newborns Still Have Mothers under 20 in 2015 
According to HPA’s Birth Certificate Application data, among 216,225 newborn babies in Taiwan in 2015, 3,230 of them (3,162 live births and 68 stillbirths) were born of mothers under 20 years old, about 1.49% of the reported newborns in 2015. Although this figure has gone down from 7,516 in 2004 (accounting for 3.42% of newborns that year), there are still 8.8 newborn babies every day whose mother is under 20 years old (see Pic 1). These young mothers may have a profound influence on their babies’ opportunities for education, even their future career planning and development. 
Childbirth under 20 May Affect Newborn’s Health 
Childbirth for teenage girls under 20 years old not only affects their own physical and mental health and their career development, it also has an influence on the health of newborn babies. According to HPA’s 2015 Birth Certificate Application data, the stillbirth rate of teenage mothers under 20 years old is 2.11%, much higher than the average stillbirth rate of 1.16% that year. Among live birth babies, the premature birth rate of newborn babies of mothers under 20 years old (under 37 weeks’ pregnancy) is 11.92%, also higher than the average premature birth rate of 9.37% that year. The rate of low birth weight babies of mothers under 20 years old (birth weight under 2500g) is 12.11%, which is also higher than the average rate of 9.03% that year. 
By further dividing women giving childbirth into three groups by age, “under 20”, “20-34” and “35 and above,” the data from 2004 to 2015 showed that the rates of underweight babies of mothers under 20 years old were 10.64% to 12.52% over the years, the highest among the three groups (see Pic 2). For the group of 20-34 years old women giving childbirth, the rates of underweight babies were between 7.02% and 8.37% over the years, the lowest among the three groups. This indicates that babies are born healthier with mothers of an appropriate age. 
From the above health data of newborn babies from mothers in various age groups, including the stillbirth rate, premature birth rate, and low birth weight rate, it was shown that teenage girls that are under 20 years old have not yet reached the appropriate age for childbirth. 

The HPA calls on all parts of society to raise concerns about the issue of teenage childbirth. The improvement and protection of the health of teenage girls can only be achieved if they can be empowered to fully develop their own potential and receive ongoing good education, to ensure the continuous growth and consolidation between generations, and the advancement and prosperity of society in general. 

Multi-channel Measures of Gender Health Promotion Services 
To improve teenage health, the HPA has established and provided multiple and convenient service measures and channels, including: 

(1) Continuously organizing campus promotional lectures and parental workshops to promote correct and healthy gender relationship and sex values, providing teenagers counseling and related resources to sexual health and medical healthcare. In addition, through campus publicity events, teenagers in need of health assistance and counseling can be referred to individual counseling or medical institutes for services. 
(2) For teenagers who are confused with relationships with the opposite sex, growing up, or sexual health issues, they can go online to the HPA’s “Youth Website – e Campus/Secret Garden” (http://young.hpa.gov.tw), a resource to provide instant and correct gender knowledge and information for teenagers and their parents, and free, one-on-one online chatting service with professional personnel that is delivered in a manner that ensures anonymity and privacy. 
(3) Coordinating 74 medical institutes in all 22 cities and counties in the country to set up youth-friendly clinicians and clinic sites (website: http://young.hpa.gov.tw/teens_08.asp), providing services and counseling on issues including gender relationships, interpersonal relationships, emotional problems and childbirth health (including contraception), to ensure teenagers access to more friendly and comprehensive health services.