Teen pregnancy on the rise despite publicity & programs
Teen pregnancy is one of the current ‘buzz’ issues in the community, with the matter highlighted during the confirmation hearing of Vaitinasa Dr. Salu Hunkin Finau on Wednesday, and the release of statistics by the LBJ Hospital, showing that despite increased publicity and programs available to prevent teen pregnancy, there has been no significant drop in the number of young girls delivering babies at the LBJ Medical Center.
The American Samoa Coalition for Youth Preservation, LBJ Family Planning Program, in a press release, noted that “the teen pregnancy rate in American Samoa rose from 7.7% of new births in 2001 to 11.3% births in 2011. From January to September 2012, the teen pregnancy rate was 29%!”
The ASCYP said, “The American Samoa teen pregnancy rate has been rising steadily for the past ten years and it is showing no sign of stopping.”
During Vaitinasa’s Senate hearing, Sen. Faletagoa’i I. Tuiolemotu said that during his 19 years with the Department of Public Safety there were problems that surfaced dealing with students, such as teen pregnancy cases, which continue to increase. He wanted to know how Vaitinasa, as a director, would address this problem.
Vaitinasa explained that DOE does not have a program to address teen pregnancy and recalled there was a sex education program several years ago, but it came under criticism by parents, who strongly objected having such a program in schools.
However, the department plans to work with other agencies such as Social Services on this matter, she said.
Senate President Gaoteote Tofau Palaie interjected saying that there are a lot of concerns that senators want to voice with the nominee. However, he suggested holding off on those concerns and other DOE issues until the Fono fully endorsed the nominee, who will then be called back by the Senate to address each and every issue of concern.
Faletagoa’i insisted on a more specific answer from the nominee to his question as to her plans to address teen pregnancy.
Vaitinasa responded that DOE’s role is to educate a student, including educating them about their bodies. However, teen pregnancy is something that is outside of the classroom and DOE’s educational functions and this is where the role of families, villages and the community come into play, she said
In statistics recently released by LBJ CEO Mike Gerstenberger, its reported a total of 31 teens gave birth to babies at the LBJ Hospital between October 2011 and December 2011. The same number of teens gave birth during the same time the following year, from October 2012 to December 2012.
A breakdown of the numbers show that during October 2011, there were a total of 96 deliveries at the LBJ Hospital. Of that number, 17 of them were teenage girls. The very next month on November 2011, a total of 110 babies were delivered and three of them were to teenage mothers. Rounding up that year in December, 11 of the 87 babies that were delivered belonged to teenagers.
During the same period the following year, the statistics stayed the same. Fifteen of the 89 babies born during October 2012 were to teen mothers. The following month in November, a dozen out of the 102 deliveries were to teens. Last month, four teenagers contributed to the 98 total number of deliveries at the LBJ Hospital.
According to the numbers for the first quarter of fiscal year 2013, there was a total of 289 deliveries at the LBJ hospital and 31 of them were teen deliveries. This means 10.7% of the total number of babies that were born during that period were to girls 19 years old and younger. Simply put, 1 out of every 11 babies born at the LBJ Hospital belongs to a teenage girl.
A total of 1171 babies were born at the LBJ Hospital during FY 2012 and 137 or 11.7% of those deliveries were to teenage mothers.
The following is a rundown of the figures pertaining to childbirth at the LBJ Hospital for 2012:
Month Total of deliveries Total of teen deliveries Teen % of total
Jan 94 12 12.8%
Feb 89 11 12.4%
March 91 9 9.9%
April 92 20 21.7%
May 97 12 12.4%
June 111 12 10.8%
July 122 16 13.1%
Aug 102 9 8.8%
Sept 80 5 6.3%
Oct 89 15 16.9%
Nov 102 12 11.8%
Dec 98 4 4.1%
The American Samoa Coalition for Youth Preservation, LBJ Family Planning Program group is newly formed and is a result of new strategies being tried to stop the rising trend of teen pregnancies.
It is still a part is part of the American Samoa Family Planning Program, and its main objective is to plan and implement strategies to meaningfully impact the high and rising teen pregnancy rate in the territory. The composition of the group is a younger age group, which is more representative of the target population. According to the press release, they will still focus on parents, families, and culture, but will more importantly, also include the teens themselves.
The Family Planning Program is funded by a Title X Grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, made possible by the Office of Population Affairs and Family Planning.
(Source: American Samoa Coalition for Youth Preservation, LBJ Family Planning Program)