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By Chulumanco Mahamba

Digital Night Supervisor

Over 190 teens gave birth on New Year’s Day

190 teenagers became mothers on the first day of 2024, marking an increase from Christmas Day figures.

At least 190 teenagers gave birth on New Year’s Day, further raising concerns about teenage pregnancy as a societal problem.

The Department of Health revealed the total number of babies who were born on the first day of the year in public health facilities across the country on Tuesday afternoon.

At least 190 teenage mothers

According to the department, 1 703 babies were born on New Year’s Day, and at least 190 teenage mothers were recorded, an increase from the over 145 teen mothers recorded on Christmas Day.

Department spokesperson Foster Mohale said the youngest mothers were 14-year-olds from KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape.

ALSO READ: Gauteng welcomed 412 babies on New Year

“This means that the child was probably 13 years old when they fell pregnant. This is unacceptable. We as a society need to take urgent action against teenage pregnancies because it is a serious issue,” said KZN Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane of the birth.

Limpopo Health MEC Phophi Ramathuba told The Citizen that as of Monday morning, Limpopo had welcomed 55 babies. The youngest mother was 15 years old, from Malamulele.

Ramathuba lamented the scourge of teen pregnancies as “depressing” and “sad”.

The Gauteng Department of Health reiterated that it recognises that teenage pregnancies remain a pressing concern that requires continued attention and support.

ALSO READ: 14-year-old among those who gave birth on New Year’s Day

“Addressing this issue is crucial to ensuring the well-being and future prospects of both young mothers and their infants,” it said.

Teen pregnancy is a societal issue

According to Mohale, teen pregnancy is a societal issue that needs to be addressed head-on because some teenage moms may be dealing with serious socioeconomic problems like poverty and low educational attainment, which may have an impact on their health and the welfare of their children.

“The Department of Health, in collaboration with sister departments like Social Development, Basic Education, and other stakeholders including Higher Health, Love Life, and Soul City, will intensify a sexual and reproductive health awareness campaign countrywide targeting both school-going and out-of-school youth to empower them with health education and the dangers of early sexual debut, unprotected sex, and other risky sexual behaviours apart from teenage pregnancy,” the department said.

New mothers congratulated

Meanwhile, the Minister of Health, Dr Joe Phaahla, congratulated them and urged fathers and family members to support mothers in raising children because it takes a village to raise a child.

ALSO READ: Gauteng Health MEC to welcome babies born on New Years day

The department said the first 2024 bundles of joy were born exactly at midnight at the Philadelphia Hospital and Seshego Hospital in Limpopo, Mowbray Maternity Hospital in the Western Cape, and Mafikeng Provincial Hospital in the North West provinces, respectively.

A breakdown of newborn babies delivered on New Year’s Day by province:

  • Gauteng: 412
  • Limpopo: 199
  • Mpumalanga: 156
  • North-West: 112
  • Free State: 68
  • KwaZulu-Natal: 260
  • Western Cape: 253
  • Eastern Cape: 200
  • Northen Cape: 43

“Mothers and caregivers are reminded that a good environment in the first 1000 days of a child`s life, which includes loving care and a nurturing, safe space free from stress and harmful substances, is important for children`s optimal growth and development,” the department said.

It further informed mothers living with HIV that they can safely breastfeed their babies the same way as mothers without HIV, as long as they consistently adhere to treatment.

ALSO READ: SA delivered over 500 Christmas babies

Additional reporting by Kyle Zeeman and Chikomo Patsika

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