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In Dominican Republic early motherhood could jeopardize the growth of the nation due to the negative effects on health, human development and the possibilities of economic and social progress of women, according to a study by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

The organization believes that the prevention of adolescent pregnancy should be a national priority, since the problem not only affects adolescents, but also has detrimental effects on the social and economic development of the country. The figures published by the United Nationsbetween 2015 and 2020, detail that two out of every ten births in the country are conceived by mothers between the ages of 15 and 19.

Compared to other countries, he explains that the problem is greater in the nation after considering that it has one of the “highest adolescent fertility rates in the world.” Also the highest in Latin America and the Caribbean.

To estimate the number, the Population Fund of the United Nations applied his methodology milena 1.0, which indicates economic losses or opportunity costs for both women and the State. The impact is calculated in five dimensions: Education, labor participation, labor and fiscal income, as well as health.

In the country, being a mother at an early age could double the probability of school discontinuity, which would affect entering the labor market at a lower level of remuneration.

“The income of women who achieve a full bachelor’s degree triples that of women who only have primary education in the country. As a result, the educational opportunity cost associated with pregnancy in adolescence it reached 138 million dollars or 6,850 million Dominican pesos in 2018”, explains the study.

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United Nations data for the year 2019.

The National Survey of Multi-Purpose Homes (Home-2018) of the National Statistics Office (ONE) revealed that 19.1% of Dominican adolescents between the ages of 15 and 19 were or had ever been pregnant. 13.8% were already mothers, 3.4% were pregnant and 1.9% had miscarried or the baby was stillborn. In addition, 4.4% of women in this age group had been pregnant on two or more occasions.

It specifies that the national adolescent fertility rate is 92 births for every 1,000 girls between 15 and 19 years of age, doubling the world rate, which is 42. In 2019, 28,791 boys and girls were born to adolescent mothers, which is equivalent to to 24.5% of the births that occurred in the country.

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Data from ENHOGAR-2018 (ONE 2018).

They studied that adolescents living in poverty are six times more likely to become pregnant than those living in high-income households. The regions with the highest density of pregnancy in adolescence they present high incidences of poverty, according to the ONE in 2020.

According to the study, 41.4% of adolescents in conditions of extreme poverty had been pregnant at least once, a figure that drops to 7.1% for those adolescents who live in higher-income households. Furthermore, it indicates that the Haitian women living in the Dominican Republic were the most likely to experience a pregnancy during adolescence.

Adolescent motherhood is also linked to early marriage unions. 71.1% of all adolescents between the ages of 15 and 19 who were ever married or in a union were or were pregnant at the time of being surveyed in the Dominican Republic.

The organization establishes that seven out of ten pregnancies in adolescence they are not intentional. According to data from the Enhogar survey, during a 2018 study, 69.9% of adolescents who had given birth wanted to get pregnant later or did not want more children, while only 30.1% wanted to get pregnant at that time.

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Percentage distribution of women between 15 and 19 years old by desire to become pregnant.

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Before the Covid-19 pandemic, some 68 out of 100 students did not receive any type of sexuality education, despite the fact that sexual initiation is increasingly earlier, with 41% of Dominican adolescents having already started. This last percentage increases to 60.9% in the case of girls and adolescents from the lowest socioeconomic group.

Another factor, which they mark as decisive, is the access to contraceptives, in which the country reports an “unsatisfied need” of 27% among sexually active adolescents. Gender inequality and the prevalence of marriages children and early unions before the age of 18.

The study carried out by Unfpam concluded that the economic cost of adolescent pregnancies in the Dominican Republic was 2,700 million pesos per year in maternity care and childbirth services in adolescents.

“This study allowed the country to have hard data on the cost of care for this population, for the first time,” he says.

Estimates conclude that Dominican adolescent mothers are losing income of more than 9,718 million pesos a year, without counting the expenses on medical attention to risk situations caused by early maternity.

Early mothers who are heads of household face unemployment levels 2.3% higher than those who were in adulthood. The unemployment rate of women who were mothers in adolescence was 9.1%, while that of adult mothers was 7.4%, which translates into a difference of 1.7 percentage points.

Dominican journalist, graduated from the Technological University of Santiago (UTESA).

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