ST VINCENT - Teen pregnancy a big problem
Teenage pregnancy continues to be a major concern for the Ministry of Health, with eight girls between the ages of 11 and 14 years giving birth in 2012, Health Minister Clayton Burgin told Parliament.
He said that teenage pregnancy remains high even as the nation recorded a constant decrease in the number of babies dying before birth, prenatal mortality.
"The area that continues to worry my ministry is teenage pregnancy. The teenage pregnancy rate in 2012 remained high, standing at 17.9 per cent, with eight girls between 11 and 14 giving birth," he told lawmakers on Monday.
The age of consent in St Vincent and the Grenadines is 16 years and a person having sex with a girl under that age can be charged with one or more of several crimes.
Burgin's comments came as he lauded improvement in both prenatal and neonatal mortality rates.
He said the neonatal mortality rates continues to decline, standing at 50.4 per 1,000 in 2010, 11.5 in 2011, and 7.44 in 2012, while the stillbirth rate fell to from 20.3 in 2011 to 14.6 in 2012.
Burgin said last year, the prenatal mortality rate stood at 22.05 per 1,000 total births, the lowest recorded since 2007. In 2010, it was 33.8 and 31.9 in 2011.
The Maternal and Child Health Committee discussed the pros and cons of folic acids for mothers as a matter of minimising congenital birth defects.