updated 24 Feb 2013, 09:52
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Tue, Sep 25, 2012
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At least 1 teen birth a day in Malaysian hospital

This year alone, 50 teenagers have given birth in a home for unwed pregnant girls in Malacca.

Ever since the school's inception in 2010, there has been 132 registered births.

The home is currently providing shelter to 23 pregnant teenagers from all over Malaysia.

The worrying trend is not confined to this school. More Malaysian teenagers are getting pregnant, with a major hospital in Klang recording at least one case every day, The Star reported.

According to Dr Mohamad Farouk Abdullah, senior consultant and head of obstetrics and gynaecology at the Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Hospital in Klang, about 14 per cent of the 12,000 babies delivered annually at the hospital are by teenage mothers with many of them unwed.

He told The Star: "We thought such numbers of teen pregnancies were only in Klang, but I am also hearing of similar scenarios in the other six specialist hospitals in Selangor.

"The youngest girl to give birth at our hospital was 12 years old."

The Malaysian Health Ministry recorded 18,652 births by girls below the age of 19 last year compared with 5,962 in the second half of 2010.

Ms Nurul Azira Mahamad Jafar, a medical social welfare officer at the Klang hospital, told The Star that she had been handling at least one case of an unwed mother every working day of this year.

She has been handling cases of unwed mothers, as well as rape and sex abuse victims at the hospital for the past six years.

She said: "The highest number of referrals I have had in a day so far was 14. These are our children who are pregnant in their teens."

She said most of the pregnant girls are referred to them by clinics. This is because teenage pregnancies are considered "high-risk cases" - a teenager is twice more likely to die from pregnancy or childbirth complications than women in their 20s.

Ms Nurul Azira said most of the girls come from broken homes and low-income families. "Some are runaways," the officer was quoted as saying.

She said many parents expressed shame when told of their daughter's condition.

"They are afraid their neighbours will know. There are also those who are numb to the fact because they feel they are unable to control their daughters," she added.

"We will usually refer these girls and their parents to the Social Welfare Department for counselling."

Ms Nurul Azira said if the parents are unable to take care of the unwed mothers and babies, they could turn to the Social Welfare Department.

She cited the case of a 13-year-old girl, who gave birth at the hospital recently.

"Her parents said they could not ensure that the girl would not get pregnant again as the father of the child was still living in the same community. So the parents agreed to the girl and her baby being sent to a department home."

Malaysia is also grappling with the issue of babies being abandoned by their mothers. To prevent that, baby hatches are being planned to provide an avenue for desperate mothers to place their babies in a safe environment.

Cases of babies being abandoned have been the subject of media reports for years. From 2010 until May this year, there were 218 baby dumping cases with 29 recorded so far this year.

The idea to open the baby hatch was conceived by non-governmental organisation OrphanCare two years ago. The baby hatch is open throughout the day, OrphanCare president Ms Faizah Mohd Tahir told The Star.

If something is placed inside the compartment, an alarm will go off to alert the caretaker, who will be able to see what is going on via the security camera.

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