Fact Check: Teenagers were 10% of deliveries, not 50% of maternal deaths

Fact Check: Teenagers were 10% of deliveries, not 50% of maternal deaths

Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo, head of the Health Department in KwaZulu-Natal, recently revealed shocking figures surrounding teenage pregnancies. Briefly.co.za explores these claims and the facts behind them.

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Briefly.co.za reported in December that the Minister of Health, Aaron Motsoaledi, had expressed his concerns over the increase in teen pregnancies, which he said had contributed significantly to maternal death rates.

Head of health in KZN, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo, has claimed that teen pregnancy had accounted for 10% of births in the country, with 45% of maternal deaths.

But how accurate is this claim? Briefly.co.za explores the facts:

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Claim: “Teenage pregnancy accounts for about 8 to 10% of all deliveries in the country, which is about a million deliveries per year.”

Finding: True

The national statistics agency, Statistics SA, has collected data on the births recorded each year. The data is maintained by the Department of Home Affairs and comes from the national population register.

According to these statistics 989318 births where recorded in 2017. Of these births 10.9% of births were to mothers aged between 10-19.

During the same year, 9.5% of maternal deaths during birth were women aged under 20.

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Claim: “Close to 45% of maternal deaths come from this small 10%.”

Finding: False

The head of the KZN department of health had recently said that almost half of the maternal deaths in South Africa are teenage mothers.

However, according to The Saving Mothers Reports, this statement is untrue. This reports are prepared by the health department's National Committee for Confidential Enquiry into Maternal Deaths, which aims to reduce the number of mothers dying during birth.

Professor Robert Pattinson is the editor of this report and shared the latest data:

“The statement by the MEC is not true for 2017 from the Saving Mothers annual report. We do not have data for 2018 yet.”

Pattinson revealed that in 2017 only 9.5% of women younger than 20 had contributed to maternal deaths.

The majority of maternal deaths ( 23.4%) were women aged 30 to 34 with 22.8% women aged 25 to 29.

In conclusion, although Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo had been correct on the number of teenagers giving birth in the country, he had grossly exaggerated how many of them suffered maternal deaths.

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Source: Briefly.co.za

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