Teen Pregnancy, Consequences of Teenage Pregnancy
Teen Pregnancy Overview
Teen pregnancy is an important issue. There are health risks for the baby and children born to teenage
mothers are more likely to suffer health, social, and emotional problems. Also, women who become pregnant
during their teens are at increased risk for complications, such as premature labor and socioeconomic
Questions to Ask Your Doctor about Your Pregnancy (For Teens)
Teen pregnancy rates in the United States declined steadily from 1991 to 2005—from 60 out of 1000
teenagers in 1991 to 40.5 out of 1000 in 2005. However, teen pregnancies increased for two years in a row in
2006 and 2007—to more than 42 out of 1000. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
(CDC), the teen birth rate in the United States fell to a record low in 2009—to 39.1 out of 1000—in all races and
Declining teen pregnancy rates are thought to be attributed to more effective birth control practice and decreased
sexual activity among teens. The most dramatic reduction in teen pregnancy—23%—has occurred among African
Still, teenage pregnancy rates remain high and approximately 1 million teenage girls become pregnant each year
in the United States. About 13% of U.S. births involve teen mothers and about 25% of teenage girls who give birth
have another baby within 2 years. To lower teen pregnancy rates, older children must be educated about sex and
about the consequences of pregnancy.
Other Consequences of Teen Pregnancy
Teenage births are associated with lower annual income for the mother. Eighty percent of teen mothers
must rely on welfare at some point.
Teenage mothers are more likely to drop out of school. Only about one-third of teen mothers obtain a
high school diploma.
Teenage pregnancies are associated with increased rates of alcohol and substance abuse, lower
educational level, and reduced earning potential in teen fathers.
In the United States, the annual cost of teen pregnancies from lost tax revenues, public assistance, child
health care, foster care, and involvement with the criminal justice system is estimated to be about $7
By Robin Elise Weiss, LCCE, About.com Guide
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Despite the fact that the teen birth rate is climbing after slowly falling for years, there are still an
estimated one million teen pregnancies in the United States alone. About 85% of these pregnancies
are unplanned, which in any population can increase the risk for problems. The biggest risk for
teen mothers is delaying prenatal care or worse, 7.2% received no care at all.
The reason for lack of prenatal care is usually delayed pregnancy testing, denial or even fear of
telling others about the pregnancy. Most states have a health department or University clinic where
prenatal care is free or low cost and patient confidentiality is very important, meaning no one can
tell the teen mother's family.
Because the body of a teen is still growing she will need more nutritional support to meet both her
needs and that of her baby. Nutritional counseling can be a large portion of prenatal care, usually
done by a doctor or a midwife, sometimes a nutritionist. This counseling will usually include
information about prenatal vitamins, folic acid, and the dos and don'ts of eating and drinking. Lack
of proper nutrition can lead to problems like anemia (low iron), low weight gain, etc.
Another problem facing teen mothers is the use of drugs and alcohol, including cigarette smoking.
No amount of any of these substances is safe for use in pregnancy. In fact, their use can
complicate pregnancy even further increasing the likelihood of premature birth and other
Premature birth and low birth weight create a wealth of their own problems, including brain
damage, physical disabilities and more. The potentially lengthy hospital stay and increased risk of
health problems for these babies leads to more stress on the teen mother.
While facing the grim realities of teen pregnancy is not pleasant, this is not the picture that has to
be painted. Teen mothers are perfectly capable of having a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.
With the proper nutrition, early prenatal care and good screening for potential problems the
majority of these potential problems will not come to light. While some tend to think that you can't
teach a teen mother anything about her body or baby, it's really a ridiculous notion. Many of the
teen mothers who take active roles in their care do go on to have healthy babies, despite the other
hardships that they will face in their lives. Support from the families and communities is a must for
the young, new family to be successful.