Number of Thai teen mums second highest within ASEAN

Thailand's ratio of young teenage mothers is now the second highest in ASEAN.

With a pregnancy rate of 54 out of every 100,000 teenage girls under 18, this figure puts the Kingdom just behind the number of young mothers in Laos, a senior official said yesterday.

The figure, based on the National Statistics Office's 2013 report, was also way beyond the World Health Organisation's standard of 15 per 100,000 teenagers. Laos reported a ratio of 56 young mums, according to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Rajanagarindra Institute (CAMRI) director Mathurada Suwannapho.

Citing another report in 2012 by the Health Department's Bureau of Reproductive Health, she said a total of 3,725 girls under 15 gave birth while some 15,443 women under 20 were "repeatedly pregnant" and giving birth.

"The issue of teenage mums needs all sides to help solve it because immature pregnancy could affect the new-born's development. Hence the institute launched the 'Love Say Play' project after 2012 to provide accurate information regarding sex to high school and university students, in the hope of keeping them well-informed and to try to prevent immature pregnancy," she said.

Youngsters were at risk in other ways too, she said. Some 723,268 Thais aged from 15-19 drank alcohol, while 9 per cent of Thai teens aged from 15-18 were smokers, and some 1.5 million youths over 12 liked playing online games, which could draw them into online vices.