Thailand sees alarming drop in total fertility rate

BANGKOK (The Nation/ANN): The Total Ferility Rate (TFR) in Thailand has dropped to 1.51 children per woman or below 600,000 newborns per year, Prof Kamthorn Pruksananonda, from the Royal Thai College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologist, said recently.

According to the World Health Organisation, the TFR level should stand at 2.1. If it is lower than that then there will be two problems: A quickly ageing society and an influx of migrant workers.

“Previously, the total fertility rate in Japan stood at 1.6, and a national leader said this would be the end of the Japanese race. Though the government introduced many measures, the birth rate in the country is still falling.

“In comparison, Thailand’s birth rate stood at 5.1, but has been going down steadily and has now hit 1.5. If we don’t do anything, it will go down to 1.3 in less than 10 years, ” Kamthorn said.

He added that apart from a dropping birth rate, many children are being born with birth defects like Down’s Syndrome because women are getting pregnant at an advanced age.

The chance of babies being born with problems is 1:800 if the mother is below 35, but the rate rises to 1:350 above 35 and then to 1:100 if the mother is above 40.

“I, therefore, urge young couples to not wait too long before having children. If they have problems conceiving, they should go see a doctor, ” he said.

Citizens have the right to seek infertility treatment in other countries a lot earlier than in Thailand.

Women in Japan and Europe can seek treatment from the age of 32, while in Thailand women have to wait until after the age of 38. The critical problem is that infertility is not considered a disease in Thailand, which means the treatment is not included in state welfare.

Kamthorn said the only way Thailand can boost its population is if it considers infertility a disease and offers benefits accordingly. - The Nation/Asia News Network

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