Estimates from the 2008 National Demographic and Health Statistics (NDHS) of the National Statistics office (NSO) revealed that about one in every four or 26 percent of women 15-24 years old have begun childbearing.
Of the 26 percent of young mothers, nineteen percent of the births delivered have multiple medical risks due to a combination of the mother’s age, birth interval and birth order, the NDHS further revealed.
A related survey conducted in 2011 by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute of the Department of Science and Technology (FNRI-DOST) among 1,650 Filipino pregnant women showed that about 40 percent of pregnant teenagers below 15 years old and 36 percent of pregnant teenagers 15-19 years old are nutritionally-at-risk due to their gestational age.
The percentage of nutritionally-at-risk pregnant women was twice higher among those who are less than 20 years old at 36.0 percent than among the 20 years old and up at 23.0 percent, the survey added.
Undernutrition among pregnant teens is a significant problem because 43.4 percent of them had low weight gain during pregnancy and more likely to have babies with low birthweight and experience short lactation, the FNRI survey also disclosed.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), stillbirths and death in the first week of life are 50.0 percent higher among babies born to mothers younger than 20 years old than among babies born to mothers 20–29 years old.
In addition, rates of premature birth, low birth weight and asphyxia or difficulty of breathing are higher among babies of adolescents, all of which increase the chance of early death and future health problems, the WHO also noted.
The Population Commission (POPCOM) likewise documented in 2001 that poor nutrition aggravated by multiple pregnancies and closely-spaced births make younger moms more susceptible to infectious diseases as well as health complications that may result to maternal or infant deaths and low birth weight babies.
Maternal depletion or deficiency has adverse effects on the nutrient composition of breastmilk, particularly on vitamin A, iodine, and B complex, thereby increasing the risk of early undernutrition among infants, the POPCOM underscored.