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A healthy start for Surinamese babies from teenage parents

19 Jun 2018

Together with partners in the Netherlands and Suriname, TNO and Perisur developed an interactive educational program for teenagers focusing on a healthy start for babies including planning a pregnancy or postponing a pregnancy to increase the chances of a healthy start. This program has been implemented in one of the main secondary schools in Paramaribo and promotes the making of well-considered reproductive choices by secondary school students.

Teenage mothers

Suriname has a multi-ethnic population with an average number of 10,000 annual births. One out of five babies is born with complications such as preterm birth, low birth weight or stillbirth. The proportion of women delivering before the age of 20 is high (18% are teenagers). Teenage pregnancies are often unplanned and unwanted with an increased risk of adverse birth outcomes. For the first time seeing and holding your child is a very beautiful and special moment. The joy can only increase if the child is also healthy and has good development opportunities. That is why parenting also brings a lot of responsibilities. All kinds of risks are still present before, during and after the pregnancy. Issues such as - how does your life look like at that moment and how it could change, are you ready for parenthood, have you found the right partner, do you have sufficient financial resources for the care of a child - all of them affect a conscious pregnancy.

Improving healthy start for a child

The interactive educational program therefore focuses on a healthy start for babies, planning a healthy pregnancy or postponing a pregnancy to increase the chances of a healthy start. This program has been implemented in 15 classes of the De Miranda College, one of the main secondary schools in Paramaribo (393 students; 62% were girls; mean age 17 years). The program included two lessons of 45 minutes. The first lesson focused on teenage pregnancies and teenage motherhood as well as pregnancy planning, fetal development and folic acid use. The lesson was positively evaluated; mean scores for the lesson and educators were 8.4 and 8.6, respectively. Students were most impressed by the topic teenage pregnancy and teenage motherhood (26%). The second lesson focused on sexual resilience using illustrative cases for group discussions. This lesson was also positively evaluated; mean scores for the second lesson and educators were 8.6 and 8.8, respectively. Over 95% of the students liked the interactive discussions.

Interactive group session with students



The project started in March 2017 and will last until December 2018 and is executed with funds from The Rotary Foundation, Rotary Club Leiden and Rotary Club Paramaribo Residence. Partners are TNO Healthy Living, Leiden University Medical Center, and the Royal Dutch College of Midwives (from the Netherlands) and from Suriname the Perisur Foundation and Lobi Foundation Health Center.

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