ASTRA Central and Eastern European Women’s Network for Sexual and Reproductive Rights and Health

Nearly one-in-ten births in both countries was to a teenager or girl even younger in 2015, the latest year for which data is available - that is more than three times the EU average. The data, from Eurostat, also uncovered hundreds of girls in the 10-14 age group from France, Germany, Bulgaria and Romania become mothers each year.

Experts say a repressive sexist culture and a lack of respect for women in some countries is fueling the problem. Nearly 1,000 births in Bulgaria and Romania in 2015 were to girls between the ages of 10 and 14. Bulgaria had nearly 300 of the young mothers – representing nearly five percent of all the country’s teenage births.

 

It’s not just a problem in south-eastern Europe. Hundreds of girls the same age gave birth in Germany, France and the UK – although they made up a smaller proportion of overall teenage births. In around half of EU countries, births to girls of this age do not even reach double figures, notably in Scandinavia.

While overall teenage births fell in every EU country over the decade to 2015, the 10-14 age group was far more stubborn. Slovakia, France, Austria, Italy and Romania all had more mothers in 2015 than a decade earlier.

The figures show a broad trend of higher levels of teenagers giving birth in south- and north-eastern Europe. Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, Lithuania, Latvia and Poland are all among the EU’s worst when it comes to young mothers. The UK is the only western European country in the EU’s worst 10, with three percent of births to a girl aged 10-19. Despite this, there has been huge progress in Britain. Teenage pregnancies have dropped from 50,396 in 2005, to 26,824 a decade later.

Around 25,000 births in Romania and Bulgaria were to teenagers or young girls or one-in-ten of new arrivals. Like the rest of the EU, both countries have seen their numbers of young mothers come down over the last decade.

Teenage births have fallen across the EU over the last decade – but the biggest drop was in Estonia. It had 1,116 teenagers giving birth in 2005, compared to 368 ten years later.

Read more: Euro News