The incidence of teenage pregnancy in the Dominican Republic is between 25 percent and 30 percent, an alarming level, according to two experts consulted Thursday by Efe.
"This is a brutal problem. We're the fifth-ranked country in all Latin America in teenage pregnancies," Santa Mateo, the adviser on sexual matters for the Dominican section of the NGO Plan, said within the framework of World Contraception Day.
For example, the Juan Pablo Pina regional hospital in the southern province of San Cristobal, on the average, treats 1,671 pregnant teenagers between 10-14 and 1,711 between ages 15 and 19 per month, according to what the center's director, Miguel Angel Geraldino, told Efe.
Many teen pregnancies are the result of rapes by a stepfather, a neighbor, a relative or someone close to the child.
The spiral of teenage pregnancies has forced hospital authorities to create a Pregnant Minors Care Unit comprising psychologists, gynecologists and general physicians.
Mateo said that part of the problem lies in the fact that teenagers "don't know how to adequately manage the information on prevention of pregnancies that they have available."
To that can be added the fact that within the family "the issue is not brought up, they don't know how to talk about the matter and there is a real lack of communication," she added.
"The school also should be proactive and should train health personal and not become punishers each time that a teenager comes to them," Mateo said.
The most dramatic case that came to light last year at Juan Pablo Pina was that of a 10-year-old girl who got pregnant after she was raped.
Public outcry forced Health Minister Fraddy Hidalgo to order that the girl be provided with all necessary medical and psychological attention in the hospital and later in her own home.
This case joins that of a 13-year-old, who is expecting triplets and currently has a diagnosis of "severe malnutrition," according to doctors attending her at the Nuestra Seña de La Altagracia Maternity Clinic in Santo Domingo.
The man responsible for impregnating the girl is a 60-year-old who is close to her family.
In 2012, the Dominican government launched an initiative to try and reduce the high rate of teenage pregnancies. EFE