Tiruchy accounts for highest number of teen pregnancies reported in TN government hospitals

Commenting on teenage pregnancies, a health worker said, "It's a complex and sensitive issue to handle in the first place."
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TIRUCHY: At 579, Tiruchy accounted for the highest number of teenage pregnancies reported in government hospitals in the state in 2023, RTI data has revealed.

Of them, 113 cases were from Tiruchy city alone while Thottiyam and Marungapuri blocks contributed the most to the numbers from the rural side.

C Prabhakar, an activist who obtained the data by filing an RTI, said that Tiruchy district stood third in regard to teenage pregnancies in the state in 2021. It worsened to second position in 2022 before becoming the district reporting the most number of cases in 2023.

According to health department data accessed by The New Indian Express, a total of 654 teenage pregnancies were recorded from both government and private hospitals in Tiruchy district in 2023-2024 (until March).

While child welfare committee (CWC) sources in Tiruchy blamed relationships stemming from social media connections, besides child marriage, for the increase in teenage pregnancies, those with the district maternal and child health (MCH) office credited it to better reporting.

While we have stringent mechanisms from restricting tablet sales in medical shops, we are not able to control the online sale of abortion pills. If a teenager's pregnancy test results return positive, we immediately report to Childline services and the social welfare department, MCH sources said.

Commenting on teenage pregnancies, a health worker said, "It's a complex and sensitive issue to handle in the first place. Most come to hospital with complaints of abdominal pain. Only then do we find about the pregnancy. Child marriage is the main cause for teenage pregnancies in the rural parts while it is intimate relationships in city areas."

"Sometimes the parents threaten us that they will die by suicide if we report such cases (teenage pregnancies)," the worker added.

When contacted, district social welfare officer Vijalakshmi said campaigns against child marriages are being undertaken in collaboration with various departments in rural areas.

In select places in the district recording higher number of teen pregnancies, the officer said, "The factors and background of the rise in teen pregnancies are yet to be collected. Concentrated campaigns will be taken up in those places to raise awareness."

A Devaneyan Arasu, director, Thozhamai, however, called the rise in teenage pregnancies alarming and shot down claims that an increase in number of cases registered meant a more effective monitoring mechanism in place.

"Raising awareness among the children should be effectively done instead of boasting about effective monitoring. Every district should devise their own strategy to control teenage pregnancies. The administration's lack of conviction is the cause for the increase in teenage pregnancies, as they don't follow it up regularly with teenagers and their parents," he said.

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Kanya, a child rights advocate with AIMS, an NGO, advocated for the inclusion of gender and sex in education curriculum. "A teenager should be aware of their body and contraceptive measures before indulging in sex. Teens should be taught about their birth control rights."

A breakdown of teenage pregnancy cases in Tiruchy in 2023-24:

Thottiyam - 61; Thiruverumbur - 21; Manikandam - 41; Andhanallur - 18, Manachanallur - 59, Lalgudi - 40, Marungapuri - 60, Manapparai - 52, Pullambadi - 36, Vaiyampatti - 28, Musiri - 26, T.Pettai - 32, Thuraiyur - 40, Uppiliapuram - 27, Tiruchy city - 113, Manapparai UPHC - 6.

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Did you know 4.5 million Indian teens were pregnant or had kids in 2015-16?

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