According to the Alan Guttmacher Institute (AGI), a nonprofit agency that focuses on sexual and reproductive health research, policy analysis, and public education, teenage pregnancy has adverse consequences for the parents, the child, and society. Pregnant teens are less likely to complete high school and attend college than teenagers who avoid pregnancy. Many teenage parents live below the poverty level and rely on welfare. The children of teenage parents receive inadequate medical care, have more problems in school, and spend more time in prison than children of adult parents. The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy (NCPTP) claims that teenage childbearing costs society about $6.9 billion annually; this estimate includes welfare and food stamp benefits, medical care expenses, lost tax revenue (teenage childbearing affects the parents’ work patterns), incarceration causes the widespread poverty and welfare dependence that teen moms expenses, and foster care. In an effort to reduce teenage pregnancy and the problems associated with it, policymakers have recently focused on what experience and have attempted to devise solutions to these problems. Some social critics argue that because pregnancy limits a teenager’s opportunities for education and well-paying jobs, many are forced to accept welfare to support themselves and their children. Only 64 percent of teen moms graduate from high school or earn a general education diploma within two years after they would have graduated compared with 94percent of teenage girls who do not give birth. This lack of education increases the risk of poverty and welfare dependence by severely restricting a young parent’s opportunity for a lucrative job and financial independence. According to Kids Count, a project by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, “The failure to go further in school can limit the mother’s employment options and increase the likelihood that she and her family will be poor. And the roughly one-fifth of adolescent mms who have more than one child are even more economically vulnerable. They might further delay finishing high school, putting them at greater risk of being slotted into low-wage jobs or facing prolonged unemployment, poverty, and welfare.” According to Child Trends, a nonprofit research organization, nearly 80 percent of teen moms eventually go on welfare, and 55 percent of all mothers on welfare were teenagers at the time their first child was born.
WHAT IS TEENAGE PREGNANCY
Teenage pregnancy, also known as adolescent pregnancy , is pregnancy in females under the age of 20.A female can become pregnant from sexual intercourse after she has begun toovulate , which can be before her first menstrual period (menarche) but usually occurs after the onset of her periods.In well-nourished females, menarche usually takes place around the age of 12 or 13.Pregnant teenagers face many of the same pregnancy related issues as other women. There are, however, additional concerns for those under 15 of age as they are less likely to be physically developed enough to sustain a healthy pregnancy or to give birth. For girls aged 15–19 risks are associated more withsocioeconomic factors than with the biological effects of age. Risks of low birth weight ,premature labor , anemia , and pre-eclampsia are connected to the biological age , being observed in teen births even after controlling for other risk factors (such as accessingprenatal care etc.).
Adolescent sexuality is a stage of human development in which adolescents experience and explore sexual feelings. Interest in sexuality intensifies during the onset ofpuberty , and sexuality is often a vital aspect of teenagers' lives. In humans, sexual interest may be expressed in a number of ways, such as flirting, kissing , masturbation , or having sex with a partner. Sexual interest among adolescents, as among adults, can vary greatly, and is influenced by cultural norms and mores,sex education provided, sexual orientation, andsocial controls such as age of consent laws.Sexual activity in general is associated with various risks. The risks of sexual intercourse include unwanted pregnancy and contracting asexually transmitted infection such as HIV/AIDS, which can be reduced with availability and use of a condom or adopting other safe sex practices. Contraceptives specifically reduce the chance of pregnancy.
The risks are higher for young adolescents because their brains are not neurally mature. Several brain regions in the frontal lobe of the cerebral cortex and in the hypothalamus that are deemed important for self-control, delayed gratification, risk analysis, and appreciation are not fully mature. The brain is not fully mature until age 25. Partially, because of this, young adolescents are generally less equipped than adults to make sound decisions and anticipate consequences of sexual behavior, although brain imaging and behavioral correlation studies in teens have been criticized for not being causative thus possibly reaffirming cultural biases.
In addition to the mentioned health risks (like unwanted pregnancies and infection transmissions), other risks have been associated with early sexual activity. For example, a recent study (2017) found that those who start having sex at an earlier age have higher risks of: not using a condom; not having good memories of that first experience; and having had that relationship for non-autonomous reasons (such as partner pressure, peer pressure or the influence of substance use). This article also summarizes other risks (found in previous studies) associated with earlier sex: having an increased number of sexual partners or of casual sexual partners; perpetrating or being a victim of forced sex; engaging in paid sex; depression and behavior problems.
WHO IS AT RISK OF A TEENAGE BIRTH?
A review of the basic research literature helps us identify those children and adolescents at heightened risk of teenage parenthood. Armed with this information, policymakers and service providers can test interventions that might lower this risk. Research consistently highlights the following factors that place children and youth at risk of teenage childbearing: • Family problems. Teenagers are at higher risk of early pregnancy and parenting if their families provide too little monitoring, are characterized by poor communication between parents and children, fail to teach values or encourage goal-setting, and do little to counteract damaging cultural and media messages. Families also need to protect children from coercive sex. States, communities, and private organizations should explore programs to strengthen families or provide teenagers with extra social and emotional support to lessen the risk of teenage parenthood. • School problems. Teenagers who are below their expected grade levels, whose school achievement is low, and who have dropped out are two to five times more likely to have a child by the time they would have completed high school. This factor suggests that programs to enhance school performance and engagement in learning as early as preschool and the elementary grades are a promising approach to reduce teenage childbearing. As we discuss later in this article, new research by Child Trends lends further support to this hypothesis. • Behavior problems. Teenagers and younger children with behavior problems in school, who smoke, drink, or use drugs, and who engage in delinquent behavior are more likely to become teenage parents. Thus, interventions that address problem behaviors among children in general may also reduce childbearing among troubled youth. Again, states might initiate efforts to improve behavior well before the teenage years. • Poverty and low income. Many children and adolescents who grow up poor (especially those who grow up in extremely poor communities), see little likelihood that they will escape poverty in adulthood. When youth perceive limited opportunities for themselves, they are often less motivated to avoid pregnancy, and early childbearing. On the other hand, better employment opportunities are associated with a lower probability of a teenage birth. Activities that enhance adolescents’ economic opportunities and present them with positive options for the future may therefore increase their motivation to avoid pregnancy.
THE MANIFESTATIONS OF TEENAGE PREGNANCY
Teenage pregnancy symptoms often go unnoticed because teens are already experiencing many physical changes. Therefore the early symptoms of teenage pregnancy are confused with changes that occur with puberty. A sexually active teen must watch for these symptoms:
Amenorrhea is absence of menstrual period in the reproductive age. Like adult pregnancy, amenorrhea is one of the important indicative symptoms of teenage pregnancy. Periods will be either be completely absent or will be present with very light and infrequent bleeding.
Weight gain is an indicative sign of teenage pregnancy. In addition to this tenderness and swelling of breast is also common symptom of pregnancy in teens. However, the physical changes due to puberty can be disguising in teens. For instance, weight gain is common during puberty and changes in breast are often confused with onset of menstrual cycle.
Sudden onset of illness such as stomach flu or bladder infection is indicative signs of pregnancy in teens.
Change in Appetite
Changes in appetite and strange food craving are the other teen pregnancy symptoms. You will note certain changes in your eating behaviour and find yourself indulging in food that you normally don’t like to eat.
CAUSES OF TEENAGE PREGNANCY
During adolescence, teenagers often feel pressure to make friends and fit in with their peers. Many times these teens let their friends influence their decision to have sex even when they do not fully understand the consequences associated with the act. Teenagers have sex as a way to appear cool and sophisticated, but in some cases the end result is an unplanned teen pregnancy. The Kaiser Family Foundation states that more than 29 percent of pregnant teens reported that they felt pressured to have sex, and 33 percent of pregnant teens stated that they felt that they were not ready for a sexual relationship, but proceeded anyway because they feared ridicule or rejection.
Teen girls are more likely to get pregnant if the have limited or no guidance from their parents. Many parents have busy lives that prevent them from providing the guidance and support that their young teenagers need to make good decisions on issues such as sex, according to the website Parent Dish. When a teen does not feel that she can talk to her parents about sex either because they forbid sex talk or because they are not around, she will more than likely turn to friends for direction on whether or not to have sex, resulting in misinformation and possible teen pregnancy.
The movie industry and the media contribute to teenage pregnancy by glamorizing teen pregnancy in news stories and movies. Movies that depict teen pregnancy as something to be desired encourage teens to engage in reckless sexual activity, according to ABC's "Good Morning America." During adolescence, teens become more focused on their appearance and how their peers perceive them. They want to be seen as part of the group, so if teen pregnancy is viewed as acceptable in their school or amongst their friends, they may seek to become pregnant as a way to gain social acceptance.
Teenagers who are uneducated about sex are more likely to have an unintended pregnancy. Some teens do not fully understand the biological and emotional aspects associated with having sex, according to DailyRecord.co.uk. These teens may get incorrect information from friends, videos, sitcoms and/or movies. Many times, teens do not have the knowledge needed to make informed and responsible decisions about whether or not to engage in sexual activity that can alter their life.
Teens can become pregnant as a result of sexual abuse or rape. The Guttmacher Institute states that between 43 and 62 percent of teens acknowledge that they were impregnated by an adult male, and two-thirds report that their babies' fathers are as old as 27. Approximately 5 percent of all teen births are the result of a rape.
EFFECTS OF TEENAGE PREGNANCY
Due to becoming pregnant during adolescence, teen mothers are very likely to drop out of school because of their low ambitions and dedication to getting an education. About 38% of female teens who have a child before the age of 18 complete their highschool education by the age of 22. This means that a very high percentage of teen mothers will not even go on to graduate from high school let alone pursue post-secondary education . In light of this, these young girls do not have full qualifications for proper jobs in the future, which leads to having a job with very low wages or even worse, unemployment. Further, this leads to poor living conditions and the inability to maintain a safe and clean environment for their newborn child. These young women often end up living on welfare and do not have adequate resources for their child . Overall, these young girls are forced to delay and postpone any plans for their future in order to raise their child .
Another issue associated with teen pregnancy is the young mother is often forced to essentially give up her identity for a new one while switching into a maternal role. These young mothers go through many physical changes: from adolescent physical adjustment to having to adapt to the ever changing shape of her body through the pregnancy and her postpartum figure.
Teens are often forced to become reliant on their family for financial resources as well as support to help get her through raising a child. In some cases, teens are shunned by their parents and do not even receive any support from their parents who are not accepting of the pregnancy. These young girls are often forced to lose contact with friends and others in their social groups in order to focus on their pregnancy .
Pregnant teens often do not have the proper healthy habits in order to go through a successful child rearing process. These mothers thus have heightened health risks, which inhibits healthy child development. Young women can suffer from things such as anaemia as well as blood pressure which is only possible during pregnancy . These mothers often smoke and drink because they are not properly educated on the child rearing process.
Having a child during these essential years truly clashes with the developmental tasks that should be occurring during adolescents. These young mothers are unable to fully develop a sense of self-identity because of their new role as an expecting mother. Further, peer and social relationships are strained or even terminated and teen years are essentially for developing relationships with others and discovering oneself . Due to all of these factors, teen mothers may end up developing depression after essentially being alienated from their family and friends . These symptoms of depression increase the chances of the teen mother committing suicide .
Pursuing this further, teen mothers are often strained for resources and social support from the father of the child. In some cases, the teen father will remain present throughout the process and in others the father will not. If the father remains present there is often high relationships tension and dissatisfaction because of the lack of financial resources, support and child care which will be needed. There is an increase in conflict which may lead to breakups, leaving the mother to be a single parent or even violence within the relationship . Due to the lack of financial resources, these young women often do not get prenatal checkups or regular checkups for their developing child and thus they are unaware of any health concerns for their child.
Many of these teen mothers are not healthy enough, thus they have a higher risk for obstructed labour and also these young women often undergo unsafe abortions which lead to the death of many young females and their unborn child .
The child of a teen mother is very likely to live in poverty because of its mothers lack of financial resources. Essentially, the birth of this child becomes the beginning of a perpetual cycle in many cases. The child is likely to endure many of the same issues its mother did in her childhood. For instance, the child is likely to grow up in poverty and in very poor conditions. They are likely to be missing a father figure, leaving them with fewer role models and increased chances of confiding in other children in the same situation. The children's academic success is also further compromised and these children do not strive to achieve much academically
. Furthermore, these kids have social problems and are unable to make friends very easily which leads to poor relationship development which is a crucial stage in adolescence. Poor relationship development can be linked to the child being deprived economically as well as educationally. The children are likely to drop out of high school and also succumb to the use of drugs and alcohol due to lack of parental involvement and monitoring . The cycle is very likely to repeat itself over and over .
The children are often also likely to suffer health risks in comparison to those born to adults. They are likely to be cognitively impaired and also susceptible to behavioural issues. The children are likely to be born underweight and prematurely, which is detrimental to their health and may even result in infant mortali
SOLUTIONS TO THE PROBLEM OF TEENAGE PREGNANCY
Teenage pregnancy is a socially, economically, physically and emotionally complex issue. StayTeen.org reports that three out of 10 teen girls in the U.S. find themselves pregnant at least once before age 20. The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unwanted Pregnancy relays that approximately 47.8 percent of all high school students report having sexual intercourse. With serious consequences at stake, ways of preventing teen pregnancy should be a high priority.
Abstinence from sex (oral, anal or vaginal) is the only behavior that is 100 percent effective at preventing teenage pregnancy. In fact, the National Campaign stresses that abstinence from sex is the best choice for teens as it avoids early pregnancy, parenthood and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Planned Parenthood reminds teens that remaining abstinent is a behavior choice and it can be difficult for some people.
Besides abstinence, using contraception during sexual intercourse can also prevent teenage pregnancy. Whether using barrier or hormonal methods, contraception can help to avoid pregnancy. StayTeen.org reports that one-third of teenage girls did not use any form of contraception the last time they had sex and 52 percent of sexually active teens reported a primary reason for not using contraceptives is because their partners did not want to. Educating teens about contraceptive methods may help to change attitudes and behaviors toward safer sex practices.
Preventing teenage pregnancy may also come down to overcoming parent-child communication barriers. The National Campaign reports that teens say their parents influence their decisions about sex, love and relationships the most; even more than the media or their peers. Starting a conversation about sex early and often may prove beneficial. This conversation should ideally begin well before a child's teen years. In fact, the National Campaign encourages parents to talk early and become"askable" parents (let kids know that they can ask you anything). Remember, this is ideally an 18-year conversation, not just one talk.
ROLES OF THE MALE IN PREGNANCY PREVENTION
The emerging awareness of the important role young men can play in improving their own and their partner's health has led to an increase in the number of programs focusing on male involvement. While male involvement has taken on many forms over the years, the term has come to encompass any clinical, community outreach, and/or educational initiative that improves young men's ability to make informed decisions about their reproductive and sexual health. 8 The goals of many of these programs include:
Increasing men's support and awareness of their partner's reproductive health needs and choices,
Increasing men's use of contraceptive methods, especially condoms to reduce the spread of STIs,
Increasing men's access to and utilization of comprehensive reproductive health services. 9
While most male involvement programs strongly emphasize pregnancy prevention, some programs also work to increase men's role in gender equity 10 , shared responsibility for childrearing, and men's important role in fatherhood. 11
Public support for male involvement has increased as attention has been drawn to the costs of unintended pregnancy and child support. Recent studies suggest that 70% of births to adolescent women occur out of wedlock and that 4 out of 5 young mothers begin receiving welfare soon after the birth of their first child. 12 Some policymakers believe that by requiring financial responsibility, men will be motivated to support unintended pregnancies and births, yet less than one-third of nonmarital births have paternity established, half of custodial parents have child support orders, and only half of those orders are fully paid. 13 These statistics draw attention for the need to focus on helping men avoid unintended pregnancies.
There is some encouraging evidence that male involvement programs are working. Data from the 1995 National Survey of Adolescent Males (NSAM) describes some of the possible positive effects of male involvement programs.
90% of teenage males having sex used condoms in the last year (although less than half used condoms 100% of the time).
About two-thirds of teenage men express little discomfort about discussing condoms with a new partner.
Among sexually experienced teenage males, more than half have one partner or less in one year.
More than 90% of teenage males agree that male responsibilities include: talking about contraception before sexual intercourse, using contraception to protect against unwanted pregnancy, and taking responsibility for a child they have fathered.
Few teenage males express the belief that causing a pregnancy would make them feel like a "real man."
By age 19, 15% of males are still virgins.
Despite these positive trends, the report warns that many teenage males still engage in unprotected sex and do not use contraceptives as consistently as they could.
Many teens who have already had sexual intercourse, including boys and girls, say they wish they could have waited. This is because doing such activity at a young age could more than likely ruin your life. Many babies that are being born today grow up not having a father. One reason for this is because the mothers are promiscuous, and have no idea who the father could be. Another reason is that the fathers don’t want the responsibility of taking care of their babies so they run away from their responsibilities and most times never come back.
teen pregnancy is not right and can be prevented. A teen should know the responsibilities of having a child and how [teenage childbearing] affects the life of the baby and themselves. If a teen [decides] to have a baby he or she has the [responsibility] to look after it, take care of it, love it, and give it shelter. They created the baby so they should live with the consequences and difficulties of taking care of it and being a parent.
Alan Guttmacher Institute Jimmie Briggs Maggie Gallagher Farrah M. McDaid “ Why Is Teenage Pregnancy Declining?
The Roles of Abstinence, Sexual Activity, and Contraceptive Use,” (1999). “Where Have All the Babies Gone?”
Family Planning Life, January (2015).“Hollow Victory on Teen Pregnancy,”
Society, May/June 2001. “Teen Pregnancy Prevention: Welfare Reform’s Missing Comp onent,”
Insight on the News, May 3, (1999). “Is Pregnancy a Rational Choice for Poor Teenagers?”
Wall Street Journal, January 18, (2010). “Recent Trends in Teen Births in the United States,”
Statistical Bulletin, January–March (2004). “Further Erosion of Marriage Is Expected After Millennium,”