A mother holds her malnourished baby in Banadir Maternity and Children Hospital in Mogadishu, Somalia

The Department of Health expressed concern on Monday over an increase in the number of teenage mothers in the country, noting that it was a serious societal issue.

According to the health department, more than 500 babies were born across South Africa on Christmas Eve. The largest number of deliveries took place in Gauteng province and the next largest number of deliveries happened in KwaZulu-Natal.

In KwaZulu-Natal province, 73 babies were born on Christmas Eve and some of their mothers were teenage girls.

In Limpopo province, among 33 mothers who gave birth on Christmas Eve, 10 of them were teenagers, including a 15-year-old girl.

Dr. Phophi Ramathuba, Limpopo Health Member of Executive Council (MEC), who visited the Mankweng Hospital to check on Christmas babies and their mothers, shared concern regarding teenage mothers and urged law enforcement agencies to protect them.

Nomagugu Simelane, KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC, who had visited Newcastle Hospital, said that the teenagers continued to become pregnant too early in their lives.

"What today's statistics are telling us is that girls are having sex at an early or very young age. In the case of these young mothers, they started having sex earlier, because when you give birth at 16, it means you are pregnant at 15 years old. It's a serious cause for worry in our communities," Simelane said as per, SABCNews.

She added that it was high time to review the beliefs and practices regarding sexual reproductive health and noted that this was not only a health matter but also a societal matter.

Simelane also said people should stop considering sex as a taboo subject.

"Let's talk to them about condoms, and birth control," Simelane added.

Mathabo Leeto, Free State Health MEC, also shared concern over teenage mothers, revealing that three out of the 15 women in Free State, who gave birth on Christmas, were teenagers.

"We want to encourage girls not to give birth at that age," Leeto added.