Durban - By about 1pm on New Year’s Day 86 babies had been born in KwaZulu-Natal state hospitals.
According to the Department of Health, the figure comprises 50 girls and 36 boys. The province’s first baby was born at Addington Hospital in Durban at the stroke of midnight.
A 17-year-old girl gave birth to the baby boy, weighing in at 3.4kg. The baby’s father is 19-years-old.
The province’s youngest mother – a 15-year-old – gave birth to a baby girl at Port Shepstone Hospital on the KZN South Coast. The baby’s father was also 15, the department said.
Two 16-year-old girls also gave birth, at Queen Nandi and Nkandla hospitals.
“Once again, we have to register our concern that the trend of young girls falling pregnant, well below the age of 18, is clearly continuing,” said Simelane. “If it happens consistently every Christmas and New Year’s Day, as we have seen, it clearly means it’s probably happening every single day of the year.”
Simelane said more and more girls were placing their own health, and that of their unborn babies, in jeopardy by falling pregnant too early.
“Just imagine these two 15-year-old school children, who are now saddled with the responsibility and related complications of raising a baby. What it means is that they had sex when they were both 14 years old. That is not normal, and we should never allow it to be.
“These are just children. They are nowhere near ready for the responsibilities that come with bringing a child into the world.
“We therefore can never overemphasise the risks that our girls are getting exposed to when they fall pregnant. Not only are they in danger of potentially fatal pregnancy-related ailments, but their prospects of fulfilling their potential as human beings are considerably compromised.”
The 16-year-old who was impregnated by the 23 year-old was 15 when she fell pregnant. That constitutes statutory rape.
“At 22 years, he should have known that this was unacceptable. So, how much longer are we going to allow this kind of thing to happen? We shouldn’t. And something needs to change,” she said.
The department called upon parents, guardians, educators and community leaders to have open and frank conversations with their children about the benefits of abstinence and responsible sexual behaviour.