ASUNCION – Socioeconomic, ethnic and educational inequality are behind the numbers of teenage pregnancies in South America’s Southern Cone, a region that has 1.25 million out of a world total of 14 million births by mothers between 15 and 19 years of age, according to a United Nations report.
The figures are taken from the first study of adolescent conception and maternity in the Southern Cone, drawn up by the United Nations Population Fund, or UNFPA, and covering the region that includes Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay.
The report, presented Friday in Asuncion, says that in all countries of the region, the rate of teenage conception declines in proportion to the increase in family income.
It also says that in countries like Brazil, teenage maternity among Indians is double that of the non-indigenous population, while both in that country and in Uruguay there is a greater proportion of adolescent mothers among women of African descent.
In Paraguay a higher percentage of teen pregnancies is observed in homes where only the indigenous Guarani language is spoken.
As for the place of residence, the study concludes that the richest regions and urban centers have lower conception rates than rural or poverty-stricken areas.
With regard to education, in all countries the levels of absenteeism from school, illiteracy and little education are mostly associated with adolescent moms, and are related to the difficulties girls have in continuing their studies once they are with child, but are also typical of those who drop out of school before pregnancy.
The report also notes that 30 percent of teenage pregnancies in Argentina were not planned, compared with 45 percent in Paraguay, more than 60 percent in Brazil, more than 25 percent in Chile, and 63 percent in the Uruguayan capital.