Teen moms account for almost half of SA's maternal deaths

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KwaZulu-Natal health MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo believes more open dialogue about the dangers of unprotected sex and teenage pregnancy could reduce by up to half the number of mothers who die while giving birth‚ or shortly afterwards.

“Significantly‚ teenage pregnancy accounts for about 8% – 10% of all deliveries in the country‚ which is about a million deliveries per year.

But close to 45% of maternal deaths in the country come from this small 10% (of teenaged mothers)‚ because these young people generally delay coming to our clinics‚" said Dhlomo.

"They hide the pregnancy. And by the time they come to deliver‚ there are certain complications that cannot be reversed.

"Therefore‚ if we were to reduce or eradicate teenage pregnancy‚ we would significantly improve the maternal health outcomes of the province.”

The MEC was speaking at GJ Crookes Hospital in Scottburgh on New Year's Day‚ where he also announced that by 8am‚ KwaZulu-Natal had had 36 babies (17 boys and 19 girls) born on New Year’s Day.

Thirty-year-old Bongiwe Mlotshwa’s daughter was the first New Year’s Day baby in the province‚ arriving exactly on the stroke of midnight‚ at Eshowe Hospital.

At Addington Hospital‚ 24-year-old Sindisiwe Gumede gave birth to twin boys.

The two youngest mothers of New Year’s Day babies are aged 16‚ and gave birth at Ekhombe and Edendale Hospitals.

There are also three mothers aged 18 who gave birth at Rietvlei‚ St Apollinaris‚ and Emmaus hospitals; and another three aged 19‚ whose babies were born at Nkandla‚ St Apollinaris and Edendale hospitals.

The oldest mother of the New Year’s Day babies in the province is aged 43‚ and gave birth at Edendale Hospital.

The MEC applauded the GJ Crookes Hospital for its programme of community dialogues to heighten awareness about the benefits of abstinence‚ protected sex‚ and the dangers of teenage pregnancy.

He noted that the hospital had not recorded a single maternal death for the past three quarters of the year.

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