Thursday, November 4, 2010

10-year-old gives birth in Spain

MADRID - Spain's press reacted with alarm Wednesday to news that a 10-year-old girl had given birth.

Newspapers expressed shock at the delighted reaction of the mother of the girl, who reportedly moved from Romania to the small southern Spanish town of Lebrija three weeks earlier.

Photographed smiling outside their modest apartment block, the baby's grandmother, identified only as Olimpia, was quoted telling reporters that she and her only daughter were "very happy" after the birth.

The father of the 2.9-kilo (6.4-pound) baby was 13 years old and had remained in Romania, she said, describing him as her daughter's former boyfriend.

The young mother "is very well, very well, like the daughter who is very well and very pretty," Olimpia was quoted as saying.

The 10-year-old, discharged after three days at a hospital in nearby Jerez where she gave birth, "is very happy with her daughter. This is a great joy. It is not a drama," she reportedly said.

Olimpia could not understand the fuss because "this is the age we get married in Romania," said the Andalucia daily Diario de Jerez, which broke the story.

National daily El Pais said the number of births to girls aged under 15 in Spain had climbed to 178 births in 2008 from 80 in 1997.

It also cited 2008 national statistics showing 386 abortions performed on 14-year-old girls. In the same year, there was also one abortion for a 10-year-old girl and one for a nine-year-old girl.

According to the paper, experts disagreed on the physiological risks from giving birth so early.

If the mother had not yet completed her development or was malnourished, she could face serious risks, and her own development could even be interrupted, gynaecologist Manuel Alonso was quoted as saying.

Another expert, Javier Martinez Salmean, head of gynaecology at the Severo Ochoa Hospital in Leganes, central Spain, said everything depended on the girl's development.

"If she has completed her development and the minor has been cared for there is no reason that there should be a complication," he said.

Giving birth at such a young age presented serious psychological and social risks, El Pais said. "The body of a minor may be ready for a baby but a girl is not ready to be a mother," child psychologist Carolina Fernandez said.

The daily El Publico quoted legal sources as saying Spain could not take action if the baby was conceived in Romania, outside of Spanish jurisdiction. If the father was only 13, he would not in any case have criminal responsibility for sexual relations with a minor, it said.

Local authorities are considering whether social services should take responsibility of the girl and her baby, or whether they can remain with their family.

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