More than 16,000 children were norm to teenage mothers in 2019, almost tenth of all births that year, a health official said.
Romanian girls aged between 15 to 19 also had almost 4,300 abortions that year, the last available statistics. Figures for 2020 have not yet been published.
“We have a big problem,” deputy health minister Andreea Moldovan said on Tuesday. “One-tenth of all births were to teenagers,” she said, slightly overstating the figure.
The National Statistics Institute reported 188,189 births in 2019, the fewest births in a single year for 53 years. Some 16,639 of those were to teenage mothers, just under 9%.
A study carried out by the National Institute for the Development of the Mother and Child, the National Public Health Institute and the Carol Davila University was put on the deputy health minister’s desk that morning.
“16,000 is a high number, even for 2021,” she said commenting on the study, adding that more than 4,000 abortions in the same age group were of concern.
“Commorbidities and complications in pregnancy, as well as high rates of school dropout and newborns being abandoned in the hospital.”
The health officials spoke Tuesday during a debate organized by Save the Children called: “Romania has the most births to mothers under 15 in Europe. What can be done?”
Another recent study by UNICEF shows that one in six mothers who had their first child at 15, will have a second child by the time they are 18.
The study concluded that the phenomenon is cyclical, repeating itself from one generation to the next in the same family.
In 2019, there were 16,639 births to teenage mothers, a drop of 9% from 2018. Births to mothers under 15 fell across Romania except in the poorer northeast and northwest where it grew by 11%.
Proportionally, many of the babies were born to Roma girls who dropped out of school, or teenagers in poorer, rural areas.
Girls aged 15 to 19 had 4,290 abortions in 2019.