Adolescent Pregnancy

Also known as teen pregnancy or teenage pregnancy, adolescent pregnancy refers to pregnancy in girls aged 13-19. Although teen pregnancy rates have declined due to increased condom use, adolescent pregnancy remains a serious concern with potential serious consequences for both mother and child.

Who is At Risk?

Those most at risk for adolescent pregnancy include girls who perform poorly in school, economically disadvantaged girls, younger girls, and girls who are already single or teen parents.

Although younger girls (aged 12-14) are more liable to be either coerced into sex or to have unplanned sex, more than half of all teenage pregnancies occur in the slightly older age group, i.e. young women aged 17-19.

Potential Complications for Teenage Moms

Adolescents who become pregnant are at greater risk of certain medical complications, including the following:

•- premature delivery (early labor)

•- anemia

•- preeclampsia (also known as pregnancy-induced hypertension (PIH) or toxemia)

•- placenta previa

Adolescent moms are also more likely to have unhealthy nutritional habits, inadequate prenatal care, to engage in smoking, alcohol use, and drug use, all of which place their babies at greater. Teenage pregnancy is further associated with high rates of death from violence.

Potential Complications for Infants of Teenage Moms

Infants born to adolescent mothers are at greater risk for:

•- intrauterine growth retardation

•- low birth weight

•- inadequate growth

•- developmental problems

•- infection

•- chemical dependence

•- death within the first year of life

Later in life, statistics reveal that daughters of adolescent mothers more likely to become teen moms themselves, and that sons of adolescent mothers more likely to get arrested and go to jail

Helping Pregnant Teens

Pregnant teens should be referred to programs that specialize in the area of adolescent pregnancy and that offer professionals and resources to help treat, treat, and guide teenage moms. The earlier teenage girls receive proper prenatal care, the better the prognosis for them and their babies. Pregnant teens should also be evaluated for smoking, drug, and alcohol use, and offered support and resources to help them quit.

Treatment options (including education about raising a baby as a single mom, adoption, and abortion) should be thoroughly explained in a caring and non-judgmental fashion. Ideally, the baby's father should be included as well. After delivery, it is important to provide adolescent parents with information regarding contraception so help prevent them from getting pregnant again.

Advice and assistance regarding remaining in school, finishing their education, or introducing them to programs where they can enhance their parenting skills is another important aspect in helping pregnant teens. They may require assistance in finding a job or entering the work force. Finally, childcare support - both physical and financial - is a crucial factor for the continued well-being of both mother/father and child.

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