Published: Wednesday 30 September 1998

Teenagers in Brazil gave birth to a staggering 900,000 babies in 1997, thus accounting for 26.5 per cent of all live births in the country. According to the ministry of health, girls between the age of 10 and 14 gave birth to 1,3 per cent of babies, while teenagers aged 15 to 19 gave birth to 25.27 per cent. This was disclosed at a seminar on teenage pregnancy held in Rio de Janeiro recently.

While fertility rates in Brazil have plummeted since the 1970s, the opposite is true for teenage girls. Between 1993-1997, the number of births in public hospitals and clinics fells from 2.9 million to 2,7 million, but the percentage among the teenagers increased from 22.3 to 26.5 per cent.

Teenage pregnancy is concentrated in Brazil's poorest regions with the lowest levels of literacy. It affects 54 per cent of young illiterate women, 29 per cent of those who have had at least three years of schooling, and four per cent of those with nine or more years of schooling.

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