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What is Adolescent Pregnancy?

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  • Written By: Tara Barnett
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 04 November 2016
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Adolescent pregnancy, sometimes called teen pregnancy, is usually considered pregnancy in a woman under the age of 19. More commonly, adolescent pregnancy is the term used for pregnancy at an age when pregnancy is considered inappropriate due to the youth of the woman. In some cultures, it is considered appropriate for a woman of 18 years of age to become pregnant, in which case the situation would not typically be considered teen pregnancy even though the woman is still within her teenage years. The problems faced both by the pregnant teen and her child are almost always social, not physical, so long as the mother is healthy and her body can sustain childbirth.

The symptoms of adolescent pregnancy are the same as any other pregnancy and may include missed periods, nausea, and changes in weight. Some adolescents do not understand or recognize the signs of pregnancy or may attempt to hide these signs from others. For the health of the child, it is important for pregnant adolescents to seek medical attention. Whether or not the fetus is terminated, the teen will almost certainly need medical assistance when dealing with the pregnancy.

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Children born out of adolescent pregnancy are more likely to experience social problems such as going to jail, doing drugs, or becoming teen parents. Infants born to teenagers do frequently have physical problems, but these are often due a mother's reckless behavior. Low birth weight is common in infants born to teenagers as well. A child born to teen parents is more likely to die within a year of life than a child born to adult parents, but this is not always owing to health.

Teenagers who become pregnant do not necessarily experience negative social or physical effects as a result of the pregnancy, but pregnancy in teenagers is highly correlated with these negative qualities. For instance, teen mothers frequently do not finish high school and rely on funds provided by others to live. They also often have a second child within their teenage years. Many teen mothers use drugs, engage in risky behavior, or go to jail. Teens who become pregnant but do not carry the pregnancy to term may not have these problems, but they may experience depression due to the trauma of an abortion.

Many people consider education about sex and contraception the best way to prevent adolescent pregnancy. Understanding how to use contraception, knowing about the potential consequences of having sex, and having the confidence to decline unwanted sexual interactions can all help prevent pregnancy. Sexual education, if taught effectively, can provide these benefits. On the other hand, the only sure way to prevent pregnancy is to practice abstinence and refrain from sex altogether. Either way, adult supervision and parental communication can help keep adolescents from becoming pregnant by providing good role models.

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candyquilt
Post 3

I'm going to come at this from a very different angle. If women were not meant to start having kids young, then why do we start getting our period at only age 12? Throughout human history, people got married much younger and had children much younger.

SarahGen
Post 2

@literally45-- I agree with you. I have a friend that I've known since childhood. She became pregnant when she was sixteen. Her parents were angry at first, but they were also very supportive. They said that they would always be there for her and allowed her to make her own decisions. She was considering putting the baby up for adoption but decided not to towards the end of her pregnancy.

It was tough for her but she did finish high school and also went to a community college. She lived with her family and raised her child and worked as well. Her parents helped her a lot.

Now she has a good job and her daughter is in

middle school. She married a great person and they are a happy family.

Although I agree that it's wrong for teens to be sexually active and that parents need to discipline their children more in this regard, we have to stop acting like it's the end of the world when a mistake happens. I think that increase in adolescent pregnancies are actually a sign of weakening family relations in America. We need to strengthen family ties and be there for one another. Giving children some freedom is good, but it's not okay let them be sexually active so young when they don't fully understand the consequences. Parents need to realize that some fault also lies with them when their teenager gets pregnant.

literally45
Post 1

I'm sure that studies have been done on this topic and that's where all this information comes from. Although the risk of abusing drugs or going to jail, for example, may be greater in teen mothers than in other teenagers, I don't think we should make this generalization.

I agree that the biggest issues experienced by an adolescent mother are social issues. Adolescents often do not have the maturity level or financial independence required to take the responsibility of a child. Raising a child is very difficult, both financially and emotionally. When the mother is very young, this responsibility can seem very heavy and unmanageable.

I think that the greatest responsibility falls on families and parents. First, we

need to educate our daughters and teach them about abstinence and protection. Secondly, when pregnancy does occur, we must support them and help them instead of alienating them or deserting them. If adolescent mothers have the support they need from their mothers, they will be less likely to experience other problems like drug abuse or criminal activity. So we need to stop judging and try to help and offer support instead.

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