According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, almost 250,000 babies were born to teen mothers in 2014. Approximately 77% of these pregnancies were unplanned. Teen pregnancy can change the function of a young mother’s life. It places her in a position where she is responsible not only for herself but also for another human being. Let’s have a look to find ways to prevent teen pregnancy.
Carrying a child and becoming a mother cause physical changes. Also, women go through emotional changes. That’s why it is important is it to Prevent teen Pregnancy.
Young mothers face additional stress as a result of:
- Sleepless nights
- Making child care arrangements
- Scheduling doctor’s appointments
- Attempting to finish high school
We will understand how important it is to Prevent Teen Pregnancy by understanding the risks of teen pregnancy. So, here are some teen pregnancy risk factors:
1. Health Risks for the Mother
Teens do not receive prenatal care soon enough. This is one of the many reasons pregnant teenage girls and their babies are at a higher risk of health complications than older pregnant women. Teens under the age of 15 are especially vulnerable to anemia (low blood iron) and pregnancy-related hypertension.
Anemia: Anaemia is characterized by a low hemoglobin concentration in the blood. This results in extreme fatigue and other complications. Anemia affects approximately 14% of pregnant women, with higher rates in pregnant adolescents due to “the inadequate amount of healthy caloric intake needed during pregnancy” as well as “increased iron requirements associated with red cell mass expansion during adolescence.” Pregnant women aged 15 to 19 are more likely to experience anemia than pregnant women aged 20 to 44. Adolescent girls need to seek certified prenatal care to ensure they are getting enough nutrients and prenatal vitamins to prevent iron and other nutritional deficiencies.
Gestational hypertension, or high blood pressure caused by pregnancy, may lead to premature birth or a baby with low birth weight. When high blood pressure progresses to a life-threatening condition known as preeclampsia, both the mother and the unborn child are at risk. This sudden rise in blood pressure after the 20th week of pregnancy is unavoidable. And this requires close monitoring by an obstetrician.
2. Health Risks for the Baby
According to a research, pregnant women under the age of 18 were more likely to give birth prematurely than older women.
The lack of early and frequent prenatal care in pregnant adolescents, combined with the fact that they are more likely than women over 25 to smoke, drink, and use social drugs while pregnant, doubles the risk of having a low-birth-weight infant. Smoking also raises the chances of complications during pregnancy, premature birth, and stillbirth.
A premature infant, also known as a “preemie,” is born before 37 weeks of pregnancy. A full-term pregnancy lasts 40 weeks.
Preemies miss out on the vital growth and development that occurs in the final weeks of pregnancy. Also, they often suffer from health issues due to their organs not having enough time to develop.
This may include:
- Cerebral palsy
- Breathing problems and asthma
- Feeding difficulties
- Serious intestinal problems
- Developmental delay
- Mental retardation
- Bleeding in the brain
- Vision problems or blindness
- Hearing problems
- Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
A low-birth-weight baby weighs less than 5.5 pounds at birth. Some children suffer from infections or other illnesses in their first days of life. In contrast, others may experience long-term issues such as learning difficulties or delayed motor and social development. According to a University of Pennsylvania report, premature babies weighing less than 4.5 pounds at birth are “5 times more likely to have an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) than children born at a normal body weight.”
Almost 10% of teenage mothers have a low-birth-weight infant. Unfortunately, these babies are more than 20 times more likely to die in their first year of life than a normal-weight infant.
3. Socioeconomic Risks
Teenage pregnancy changes the course of a young girl’s life and, in many cases, the life of her partner. The effect on their futures is often negative:
- Teen moms have a lower chance of graduating from high school
- According to the CDC, teenage births are linked with lower annual income for the mother, with 80 percent eventually depending on welfare.
- Only about 2% of teen mothers finish college by the age of 30.
- Teen fathers have fewer years of schooling than older fathers and are less likely to have a job.
- According to the CDC, teenage pregnancies are associated with an increased risk of criminal activity in the fathers. These include alcohol and drug abuse, a lower educational level, and a decrease in future potential income.
- Around 25 percent of teen mothers have a second child within 24 months of having their first.
- Teenage mothers are more likely to be poor and to be victims of domestic violence.
- Teenage children are less likely to receive early and continuous cognitive and social stimulation. This results in underdeveloped intellect and lower academic achievement rates.
- High school dropout rates are higher for children with teen parents. And they are more likely to be ignored or abused.
- Infants born to teenagers are more likely to be exposed to domestic abuse and violence.
- Children of adolescent mothers have an increased risk of getting into trouble at school or with the law.
- Boys born to teenage mothers are three times more likely to be incarcerated during puberty than sons born to mothers who delay childbearing.
- Girls born to adolescent mothers are 22% more likely to become adolescent mothers.
- As young adults, children of teen parents are more likely to be unemployed.
How to Prevent Teen Pregnancy?
Although you cannot remove all risk factors for your teen, you may take steps to prevent pregnancy. According to research, the most important thing you can do as a parent is to speak to your teen about sex.
Ensure that your adolescent is aware of the truth of preventing unplanned pregnancy. If your message is that of abstinence or delaying sex until the appropriate time, make sure you talk birth control with your teen. These are the things you can do to prevent teen pregnancy.
Talk with Your Teen
It is important to have ongoing sex conversations. Most parents believe it would not happen in their family. But believing your teen isn’t having sex or isn’t interested in romantic relationships may increase their teen pregnancy risk.
Explain your values and expectations with your teen. If you clarify that you do not approve of sex during high school, your teen will be less likely to become sexually active.
It can also help clarify that your teen can come to you with any questions or concerns they have to prevent your teen from feeling the need to hide something from you.
Provide Accurate Information
Allow your teen to ask questions and have open discussions. This will help to ensure that they are well-informed.
Although they can be informative, don’t depend completely on your teen’s school’s sex education services to teach them what they need to know about pregnancy and sex.
When it comes to issues like effective birth control and sexually transmitted diseases, parental support is important.
Many adolescents still believe common theories such as “I can’t get pregnant the first time I have sex.”
The Bottom Line
The most reliable way to prevent teen pregnancy is to avoid having sex or, if you do have sex, to use contraception at all times.
If you use birth control pills, condoms, or other contraception types, make sure you know how to use them correctly and follow the instructions.
If you’re sexually active, talk to your parents or a trusted adult about how to get birth control.
Consult your doctor, a public health center, or a Planned Parenthood clinic for advice and a birth control prescription. The majority of nonprofit and community health centers provide free or on a sliding-fee scale based on income.