In Mexico, Burping Baby Dolls Help Fight Teen
22 Feb, 2007 -REUTERS
MEXICO CITY: High school
students in the Mexican state of Chihuahua are being made to care for screaming,
hiccuping baby dolls that run on computer chips to try to bring down the state's
soaring teenage pregnancy rate.
Pairs of teen-age boys and girls aged 13 to 17 have to
spend two or three days tending to the computerised babies, programed to cry for
food, burp and wake up screaming at night until they are rocked back to sleep.
"You have to change their diapers,
feed them and slap them on the back so they burp. They laugh, they get colic.
They simulate the behaviour of a real baby,"said state education official Pilar
Huidobro, who is in charge of the programme.
"The aim is to have a more novel way of getting young
people to be really conscious of the risk of becoming fathers or mothers at a
The northern border
state of Chihuahua suffers from one of the highest rates of teen-age pregnancy
in the country, with 20% of babies being born to mothers aged 19 or younger,
Some of the dolls
can show symptoms of withdrawal from alcohol or drugs, as if they were the
offspring of addicts.
lifelike plastic dolls, called RealCare babies, are also used in programs in the
United States and Britain. In Mexico, Toluca-based company Sucisa also sells
them to health clinics in other parts of the country.
Students in Chihuahua are mostly horrified at the amount
of work involved in looking after a baby, which they take home at night,
"There's been a good
response,"she said. "They all agree it's not the right time for that kind of
is technically defined as occurring when women under the age of 20 become
pregnant, although in the US, the term usually refers to girls younger than 18
years of age.
Approximately 40% of
young women under 20 become pregnant in the US. 95% of these are unintended, one
third end in abortion, one third end in spontaneous miscarrage, and one third
will continue their pregnancy and keep their
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