Latin America only region with rise in teen pregnancies since 1980

January 22, 2010

Latin America is the only region in the world where teen pregnancy has risen since 1980, according to a recent report by the Ibero-American Organization for Youth (OIJ).

The document, entitled “Adolescent Reproduction and Inequality in Latin America and the Caribbean: A Call to Reflection and Action,” is a joint project of the OIJ and two United Nations agencies: the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean and the United Nations Population Fund.

The text notes that “Latin America is the only region in the world (including Africa ) where the teen pregnancy rate has risen over the past 30 years,” said the OIJ´s assistant secretary general, Leire Iglesias.

Presenting the document together with OIJ Secretary-General Eugenio Ravinet in Madrid, Spain, Iglesias added, “the unplanned pregnancy rate in the region continues to grow steadily.”

The report was drawn up on the basis of data collected from 17 countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela.

The report, which studied young women ages 15 to 19, also said that 73.1 of every 1,000 pregnancies in Latin America are “teen pregnancies that are probably unplanned,” Ravinet said, adding that that figure is much higher than the world average of 54 adolescent pregnancies per 1,000.

Regarding the influence of socio-economic factors, the study found that “the better the educational system the greater the decrease in the rate of unplanned teen pregnancies.”

Income levels continued to be another key factor, as the report also found that “the greater the level of poverty, the greater the likelihood of an unplanned pregnancy.”

“We can´t be satisfied with what we´ve seen” and with the current situation, Ravinet said.

“Big teenage-prevention programs are always being announced, big sex-education days at high schools, and generally they don´t lead to anything,” he said.

Ravinet said teenage pregnancy frustrates “the aspirations of thousands of women to develop themselves and attain a more comfortable life.”

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