Pregnant Cuban adolescents: a pending problem

The commotion that this pandemic has caused at the global and national levels has forced the displacement of issues from the public agenda that, while still being very important, are not life or death issues such as COVID-19.

But this does not mean that they stop being there, latent and hurting.

That is precisely the case of teenage pregnancy in Cuba, where, at the end of 2019, about 16% of births were contributed by mothers under 20 years of age.

This figure is equivalent to an adolescent fertility rate of 52.3 births per thousand young people between 15 and 19 years old, according to collects Cenesex on its Facebook profile.

Pregnant Cuban adolescents: a pending problem

Photo: Internet

It is not to remain impassive.

Considering all that these figures imply —which only decreased a little during the COVID years—, the Federation of Cuban Women (FMC) convened a National day of prevention of pregnancy in adolescence, which will take place throughout the country on the 1st. from February to April 4 next.

These pregnancies are nothing new on the Island. During the last two decades, the statistics of teenage pregnancy, far from declining, have been increasing.

Only in the context of the pandemic does it seem that there has been a slight decrease in this indicator, but the deputy director of the Center for Demographic Studies (CEDEM) of the UH, Matilde de la Caridad Molina Cintra, recalls in her article «Trends in adolescent fertility in Cuba until 2020”, appeared in the magazine News in populationthat it is difficult to analyze the impact of this period on adolescent fertility, among other things, due to the lack of recent data.

Pregnancy rate, interruption and fertility, from 15 to 19 years. Cuba, 2019 and 2020

Pregnant Cuban adolescents: a pending problem
Source: Table prepared by Matilde de la C. Molina from the Demographic Yearbooks of Cuba and the Directorate of Medical Records and Statistics of the MINSAP.

However, it points out that it is confirmed when comparing the year 2020 with 2019 that pregnancies, interruptions and births per 1,000 women between 15 and 19 years of age decreased.

The decrease in the number of these pregnancies could have influenced, Molina Cintra mentions, the also decrease in unions, marriages, and the formation of couples in general, due to the need for physical isolation, due to the closure of schools and places for recreation, among other health provisions.

Anyway, the bulb is still red. And within Cuban territory, it is special for Granma, which in the last five years has been the province with the highest rate of teenage pregnancy, with 23.1% at the end of 2021, above the 18 percent reported in the country.

Pregnant Cuban adolescents: a pending problem
In Granma, they carry out actions for the prevention of teenage pregnancy in communities and educational institutions. Photo: ACN

Precisely because of such numbers, that province in eastern Cuba was the venue for convening the National Day for the Prevention of Adolescent Pregnancy. And there, too, multidisciplinary groups will be organized in all municipalities to deploy communication and prevention actions in schools, according to reported to ACN the Doctor of Science Miladys Orraca Castillo, president of the Cuban Society for the Development of the Family.

in other latitudes

According to ECLAC and its Gender Equality Observatory for Latin America and the Caribbean, “adolescent pregnancy is a problem that persists in the region, despite the fact that fertility among women, in general, tends to fall.” .

«The adolescent fertility rate in Latin America and the Caribbean is one of the highest in the world, only surpassed by the countries of sub-Saharan Africa».

Pregnant Cuban adolescents: a pending problem
Photo: AFP

The report of this entity points out that the maternity rate tends to be higher in adolescents with lower income and lower educational level.

This, without forgetting two main variables that, in general, determine these pregnancies: the increasingly earlier sexual initiation and the use or not of contraceptives, especially in the first relationship.

The vast majority of adolescents in Cuba and in the rest of the world who get pregnant do not want it. Hence, the same if they resort to interruption, that if they decide, or are forced, to have the baby, the same could leave different traces, and all of them of a negative sign, the same for them as for the new being they bring to the world.

For this reason, prevention is the verb, and from the most diverse knowledge and sciences, whose enormous potential has already been put to the test in this stage of the pandemic. And preventing what is unwanted also includes the right of Cuban women to decide about their bodies and their lives, as well as the need to practice responsible sexuality.

Pregnant Cuban adolescents: a pending problem
Photo: Armando E. Contreras Tamayo / ACN

“The call is to incorporate concepts and knowledge, and raise awareness about the transcendental decision to conceive our children at the most appropriate time for the health of both girls and boys, from the biological, psychological and social points of view. ».

This is how Teresa Amarelle Boué, general secretary of the FMC, sentenced, and her exhortation transcends the context of a day.

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