Teenage pregnancy: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Teenage pregnancy is defined as a teenaged or underaged girl (usually within the ages of 13–19) becoming pregnant. The term in everyday speech usually refers to women who have not reached legal adulthood, which varies across the world, who become pregnant.

The average age of menarche (first menstrual period) in the United States is 12 years old, though this figure varies by ethnicity[1] and weight, and first ovulation occurs only irregularly until after this. The average age of menarche has been declining and continues to do so. Whether fertility leads to early pregnancy depends on a number of factors, both societal and personal. Worldwide, rates of teenage pregnancy range from 143 per 1000 in some sub-Saharan African countries to 2.9 per 1000 in South Korea.[2][3]

Pregnant teenagers face many of the same obstetrics issues as women in their 20s and 30s. However, there are additional medical concerns for younger mothers, particularly those under fifteen and those living in developing countries.[4] For mothers between 15 and 19, age in itself is not a risk factor, but additional risks may be associated with socioeconomic factors.[5]

Data supporting teenage pregnancy as a social issue in developed countries include lower educational levels, higher rates of poverty, and other poorer "life outcomes" in children of teenage mothers. Teenage pregnancy in developed countries is usually outside of marriage, and carries a social stigma in many communities and cultures. For these reasons, there have been many studies and campaigns which attempt to uncover the causes and limit the numbers of teenage pregnancies.[6] In other countries and cultures, particularly in the developing world, teenage pregnancy is usually within marriage and does not involve a social stigma.[7] Among OECD developed countries, the United States and United Kingdom have the highest level of teenage pregnancy, while Japan and South Korea have the lowest.[8]


Global incidence

Teen birth and abortion rates, 1996[9]
per 1000 women 15–19
Country birth rate abortion rate Combined rate
Netherlands 7.7 3.9 11.6
Spain 7.5 4.9 12.4
Italy 6.6 6.7 13.3
Greece 12.2 1.3 13.5
Belgium 9.9 5.2 15.1
Germany 13.0 5.3 18.3
Finland 9.8 9.6 19.4
France 9.4 13.2 22.6
Denmark 8.2 15.4 23.6
Sweden 7.7 17.7 25.4
Norway 13.6 18.3 31.9
Czech Republic 20.1 12.4 32.5
Iceland 21.5 20.6 42.1
Slovak Republic 30.5 13.1 43.6
Australia 20.1 23.9 44
Canada 22.3 22.1 44.4
United Kingdom 29.6 21.3 50.9
New Zealand 33.4 22.5 55.9
Hungary 29.9 30.2 60.1
United States 55.6 30.2 85.8
Live births per 1000 women 15–19 years old, 2002:[10] Map-world-teenage-biological-mothers2002.svg
Country Teenage birth rate

per 1000 women 15–19

 South Korea 3
 Japan 4
 China 5
 Switzerland 5
 Netherlands 5
 Spain 6
 Singapore 6
 Italy 6
 Sweden 7
 Denmark 7
 Slovenia 8
 Finland 8
 Luxembourg 9
 France 9
 Belgium 9
 Greece 10
 Cyprus 10
 Norway 11
 Germany 11
 Malta 12
 Austria 12
 Ireland 15
 Poland 16
 Canada 16
 Australia 16
 Albania 16
 Portugal 17
 Israel 17
 Czech Republic 17
 Iceland 19
 Croatia 19
 United Kingdom 20
 Hungary 21
 Bosnia and Herzegovina 23
 Slovakia 24
 Latvia 24
 Lithuania 26
 Estonia 26
 New Zealand 27
 Belarus 27
 Russia 30
 Georgia 33
 Macedonia 34
 Armenia 34
 Romania 37
 Ukraine 38
 Saudi Arabia 38
 Bulgaria 41
 Chile 44
 Brazil 45
 United States 53
 Indonesia 55
 Mexico 64
 South Africa 66
 India 73
 Nigeria 103
 Niger 233

Save the Children found that, annually, 13 million children are born to women under age 20 worldwide, more than 90% in developing countries. Complications of pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of mortality among women between the ages of 15 and 19 in such areas.[4] The highest rate of teenage pregnancy in the world is in sub-Saharan Africa, where women tend to marry at an early age.[2] In Niger, for example, 87% of women surveyed were married and 53% had given birth to a child before the age of 18.[11]

In the Indian subcontinent, early marriage sometimes means adolescent pregnancy, particularly in rural regions where the rate is much higher than it is in urbanized areas. The rate of early marriage and pregnancy has decreased sharply in Indonesia and Malaysia, although it remains relatively high. In the industrialized Asian nations such as South Korea and Singapore, teenage birth rates are among the lowest in the world.[12]

The overall trend in Europe since 1970 has been a decreasing total fertility rate, an increase in the age at which women experience their first birth, and a decrease in the number of births among teenagers.[citation needed] Most continental Western European countries have very low teenage birth rates. This is varyingly attributed to good sex education and high levels of contraceptive use (in the case of the Netherlands and Scandinavia), traditional values and social stigmatization (in the case of Spain and Italy) or both (in the case of Switzerland).[3]

The teenage birth rate in the United States is the highest in the developed world, and the teenage abortion rate is also high.[3] The U.S. teenage pregnancy rate was at a high in the 1950s and has decreased since then, although there has been an increase in births out of wedlock.[13] The teenage pregnancy rate decreased significantly in the 1990s; this decline manifested across all racial groups, although teenagers of African-American and Hispanic descent retain a higher rate, in comparison to that of European-Americans and Asian-Americans. The Guttmacher Institute attributed about 25% of the decline to abstinence and 75% to the effective use of contraceptives.[14] [15] However, in 2006 the teenage birth rate rose for the first time in fourteen years.[16] This could imply that teen pregnancy rates are also on the rise, however the rise could also be due to other sources: a possible decrease in the number of abortions or a decrease in the number of miscarriages, to name a few. The Canadian teenage birth has also trended towards a steady decline for both younger (15–17) and older (18–19) teens in the period between 1992–2002.[17]

Causes of teenage pregnancy

In some societies, early marriage and traditional gender roles are important factors in the rate of teenage pregnancy. For example, in some sub-Saharan African countries, early pregnancy is often seen as a blessing because it is proof of the young woman's fertility.[11] In the Indian subcontinent, early marriage and pregnancy is more common in traditional rural communities compared to the rate in cities.[12] The lack of education on safe sex, whether it’s from parents, schools, or otherwise, is a cause of teenage pregnancy. Many teenagers are not taught about methods of birth control and how to deal with peers who pressure them into having sex before they are ready. Many pregnant teenagers do not have any cognition of the central facts of sexuality. Some teens have said to be pressured into having sex with their boyfriend when the teen was young and yet no one had taught these teens how to deal with this pressure or to say "no".[18]

In societies where adolescent marriage is uncommon, young age at first intercourse and lack of contraceptive use may be factors in teen pregnancy.[3][19] Most teenage pregnancies in the developed world appear to be unplanned.[19][20]

Adolescent sexual behavior

According to information available from the Guttmacher Institute, sex by age 20 is the normal age across the world, and countries with low levels of adolescent pregnancy accept sexual relationships among teenagers and provide comprehensive and balanced information about sexuality.[21]

However, in a Kaiser Family Foundation study of US teenagers, 29% of teens reported feeling pressure to have sex, 33% of sexually active teens reported "being in a relationship where they felt things were moving too fast sexually", and 24% had "done something sexual they didn’t really want to do".[22] Several polls have indicated peer pressure as a factor in encouraging both girls and boys to have sex.[23][24] Inhibition-reducing drugs and alcohol may possibly encourage unintended sexual activity. If so, it is unknown if the drugs themselves directly influence teenagers to engage in riskier behavior, or whether teenagers who engage in drug use are more likely to engage in sex. Correlation does not imply causation. The drugs with the strongest evidence linking to teenage pregnancy are cannabis, alcohol, and amphetamines, including "ecstasy". The drugs with the least evidence to support a link to early pregnancy are opioids, such as heroin, morphine, and oxycodone, of which a well-known effect is the significant reduction of libido – it appears that teenage opioid users have significantly reduced rates of conception compared to their non-using, and cannabis, alcohol, and amphetamine using peers. Amphetamines are widely prescribed to treat ADHD – internationally, the countries with the highest rates of recorded amphetamine prescription to teenagers also have the highest rates of teenage pregnancy.[3][22][25][26]...... HI


Adolescents may lack knowledge of, or access to, conventional methods of preventing pregnancy, as they may be too embarrassed or frightened to seek such information.[23][27] Contraception for teenagers presents a huge challenge for the clinician. In 1998, the government set a target to halve the under-18 pregnancy rate by 2010. The Teenage Pregnancy Strategy (TPS) was established to achieve this. The pregnancy rate in this group, although falling, rose slightly in 2007, to 41.7 per 1000 women. The 2010 target is currently looking highly ambitious. Young women often think of contraception either as 'the pill' or condoms and have little knowledge about other methods. They are heavily influenced by negative, second-hand stories about methods of contraception from their friends and the media. Prejudices are extremely difficult to overcome. Over concern about side-effects, for example weight gain and acne, often affect choice. Missing up to three pills a month is common, and in this age group the figure is likely to be higher. Restarting after the pill-free week, having to hide pills, drug interactions and difficulty getting repeat prescriptions can all lead to method failure.[28]

In the United States, according to the 2002 National Surveys of Family Growth, sexually active adolescent women wishing to avoid pregnancy were less likely than those of other ages to use contraceptives (18% of 15- to 19-year-olds used no contraceptives, versus 10.7% average for women ages 15 to 44).[29] More than 80% of teen pregnancies are unintended.[30] Over half of unintended pregnancies were to women not using contraceptives,[29] most of the rest are due to inconsistent or incorrect use.[30] 23% of sexually active young women in a 1996 Seventeen magazine poll admitted to having had unprotected sex with a partner who did not use a condom, while 70% of girls in a 1997 PARADE poll claimed it was embarrassing to buy birth control or request information from a doctor.[23]

Among teens in the UK seeking an abortion, a study found that the rate of contraceptive use was roughly the same for teens as for older women.[31]

In other cases, contraception is used, but proves to be inadequate. Inexperienced adolescents may use condoms incorrectly or forget to take oral contraceptives. Contraceptive failure rates are higher for teenagers, particularly poor ones, than for older users.[25] Reversible longer term methods such as intrauterine devices, subcutaneous implants, or injections (Depo provera, Combined injectable contraceptive), require less frequent user action, lasting from a month to years, and may prevent pregnancy more effectively in women who have trouble following routines, including many young women. The simultaneous use of more than one contraceptive measure further decreases the risk of unplanned pregnancy, and if one is a condom barrier method, the transmission of sexually transmitted disease is also reduced.[32]

Age discrepancy in relationships

According to the conservative lobbying organization Family Research Council, studies in the US indicate that age discrepancy between the teenage girls and the men who impregnate them is an important contributing factor. Teenage girls in relationships with older boys, and in particular with adult men, are more likely to become pregnant than teenage girls in relationships with boys their own age. They are also more likely to carry the baby to term rather than have an abortion. A review of California's 1990 vital statistics found that men older than high school age fathered 77 percent of all births to high school-aged girls (ages 16–18), and 51 percent of births to junior high school-aged girls (15 and younger). Men over age 25 fathered twice as many children of teenage mothers than boys under age 18, and men over age 20 fathered five times as many children of junior high school-aged girls as did junior high school-aged boys. A 1992 Washington state study of 535 adolescent mothers found that 62 percent of the mothers had a history of being raped or sexual molested by men whose ages averaged 27 years. This study found that, compared with nonabused mothers, abused adolescent mothers initiated sex earlier, had sex with much older partners, and engaged in riskier, more frequent, and promiscuous sex. Studies by the Population Reference Bureau and the National Center for Health Statistics found that about two-thirds of children born to teenage girls in the United States are fathered by adult men age 20 or older.[33]

Sexual abuse

Studies have found that between 11 and 20 percent of pregnancies in teenagers are a direct result of rape, while about 60 percent of teenage mothers had unwanted sexual experiences preceding their pregnancy. Before age 15, a majority of first-intercourse experiences among females are reported to be non-voluntary; the Guttmacher Institute found that 60 percent of girls who had sex before age 15 were coerced by males who on average were six years their senior. One in five teenage fathers admitted to forcing girls to have sex with them.[34]

Multiple studies have indicated a strong link between early childhood sexual abuse and subsequent teenage pregnancy in industrialized countries. Up to 70 percent of women who gave birth in their teens were molested as young girls; by contrast, 25 percent for women who did not give birth as teens were molested.[35][36][37][38]

In some countries, sexual intercourse between a minor and an adult is not considered consensual under the law because a minor is believed to lack the maturity and competence to make an informed decision to engage in fully consensual sex with an adult. In those countries, sex with a minor is therefore considered statutory rape. In most European countries, by contrast, once an adolescent has reached the age of consent, he or she can legally have sexual relations with adults because it is held that in general (although certain limitations may still apply), reaching the age of consent enables a juvenile to consent to sex with any partner who has also reached that age. Therefore, the definition of statutory rape is limited to sex with a person under the minimum age of consent. What constitutes statutory rape ultimately differs by jurisdiction (see age of consent).

Dating violence

Studies have indicated that adolescent girls are often in abusive relationships at the time of their conceiving.[39][39][40][41][42] They have also reported that knowledge of their pregnancy has often intensified violent and controlling behaviours on part of their boyfriends.[43][44] Women under age 18 are twice as likely to be beaten by their child's father than women over age 18.[45] A UK study found that 70% of women who gave birth in their teens had experienced adolescent domestic violence.[46] Similar results have been found in studies in the United States. A Washington State study found 70% of teenage mothers had been beaten by their boyfriends, 51% had experienced attempts of birth control sabotage within the last year, and 21% experienced school or work sabotage.[42]

In a study of 379 pregnant or parenting teens and 95 teenage girls without children, 62% of the girls aged 11–15 years and 56% of girls aged 16–19 years reported experiencing domestic violence at the hands of their partners. Moreover, 51% of the girls reported experiencing at least one instance where their boyfriend attempted to sabotage their efforts to use birth control.[47]

Socioeconomic factors

Teenage pregnancy has been defined predominantly within the research field and among social agencies as a social problem. A hospital-based cohort study was undertaken over 4 months among women admitted to a rural hospital in West Bengal. The study cohort comprised of teenage mothers between 15–19 years old and a control cohort of mothers between 20–24 years old. Data included demographic variables, available medical records, and complications viz. anemia, preterm delivery, and low birth weight. Anemia was defined as a hemoglobin level below 10 gm% during the last trimester of pregnancy, preterm delivery was defined as occurring within 37 weeks of gestation, and low birth weight was defined as babies weighing less than 2500 grams at birth. The Result: Teenage pregnancy comprised 24.17% of total pregnancies occurring in the hospital during the study period.[48]

A young poverty-stricken girl clutches her child. Image from ca 1884.

Poverty is associated with increased rates of teenage pregnancy.[25] Economically poor countries such as Niger and Bangladesh have far more teenage mothers compared with economically rich countries such as Switzerland and Japan.[10]

In the UK, around half of all pregnancies to under 18s are concentrated among the 30% most deprived population, with only 14% occurring among the 30% least deprived.[49] In Italy, the teenage birth rate in the well-off central regions is only 3.3 per 1,000, while in the poorer Mezzogiorno it is 10.0 per 1000.[3] Sociologist Mike A. Males noted that teenage birth rates closely mapped poverty rates in California:[50]

Teen pregnancy costs the United States over $7 billion annually. [51]

County Poverty rate Birth rate*
Marin County 5% 5
Tulare County (Caucasians) 18% 50
Tulare County (Hispanics) 40% 100

* per 1000 women aged 15–19

There is little evidence to support the common belief that teenage mothers become pregnant to get benefits, welfare, and council housing. Most knew little about housing or financial aid before they got pregnant and what they thought they knew often turned out to be wrong.[20]

Childhood environment

Women exposed to abuse, domestic violence, and family strife in childhood are more likely to become pregnant as teenagers, and the risk of becoming pregnant as a teenager increases with the number of adverse childhood experiences. According to a 2004 study, one-third of teenage pregnancies could be prevented by eliminating exposure to abuse, violence, and family strife. The researchers note that "family dysfunction has enduring and unfavorable health consequences for women during the adolescent years, the childbearing years, and beyond." When the family environment does not include adverse childhood experiences, becoming pregnant as an adolescent does not appear to raise the likelihood of long-term, negative psychosocial consequences.[52] Studies have also found that boys raised in homes with a battered mother, or who experienced physical violence directly, were significantly more likely to impregnate a girl.[53]

Studies have also found that girls whose fathers left the family early in their lives had the highest rates of early sexual activity and adolescent pregnancy. Girls whose fathers left them at a later age had a lower rate of early sexual activity, and the lowest rates are found in girls whose fathers were present throughout their childhood. Even when the researchers took into account other factors that could have contributed to early sexual activity and pregnancy, such as behavioral problems and life adversity, early father-absent girls were still about five times more likely in the United States and three times more likely in New Zealand to become pregnant as adolescents than were father-present girls.[54][55]

Low educational expectations have been pinpointed as a risk factor.[56] A girl is also more likely to become a teenage parent if her mother or older sister gave birth in her teens.[57][58] A majority of respondents in a 1988 Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies survey attributed the occurrence of adolescent pregnancy to a breakdown of communication between parents and child and also to inadequate parental supervision.[23]

Foster care youth are more likely than their peers to become pregnant as teenagers. The National Casey Alumni Study, which surveyed foster care alumni from 23 communities across the United States, found the birth rate for girls in foster care was more than double the rate of their peers outside the foster care system. A University of Chicago study of youth transitioning out of foster care in Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin found that nearly half of the females had been pregnant by age 19. The Utah Department of Human Services found that girls who had left the foster care system between 1999 and 2004 had a birth rate nearly 3 times the rate for girls in the general population.[59]

Limiting teenage pregnancies

Many health educators have argued that comprehensive sex education would effectively reduce the number of teenage pregnancies, although opponents argue that such education encourages more and earlier sexual activity.

In the UK, the teenage pregnancy strategy, which was run first by the Department of Health and is now based out of the Children, Young People and Families directorate in the Department for Children, Schools and Families, works on several levels to reduce teenage pregnancy and increase the social inclusion of teenage mothers and their families by:

  • joined up action, making sure branches of government and health and education services work together effectively;
  • prevention of teenage pregnancy through better sex education and improving contraceptive and advice services for young people, involving young people in service design, supporting the parents of teenagers to talk to them about sex and relationships, and targeting high-risk groups;
  • better support for teenage mothers, including help returning to education, advice and support, work with young fathers, better childcare and increasing the availability of supported housing.

The teenage pregnancy strategy has had mixed success. Although teenage pregnancies have fallen overall, they have not fallen consistently in every region, and in some areas they have increased. There are questions about whether the 2010 target of a 50% reduction on 1998 levels can be met.

In the United States the topic of sex education is the subject of much contentious debate. Some schools provide "abstinence-only" education and virginity pledges are increasingly popular. A 2004 study by Yale and Columbia Universities found that fully 88 percent of those who pledge abstinence have premarital sex anyway.[60] Most public schools offer "abstinence-plus" programs that support abstinence but also offer advice about contraception. A team of researchers and educators in California have published a list of "best practices" in the prevention of teen pregnancy, which includes, in addition to the previously mentioned concepts, working to "instill a belief in a successful future", male involvement in the prevention process, and designing interventions that are culturally relevant.[61]

The Dutch approach to preventing teenage pregnancy has often been seen as a model by other countries. The curriculum focuses on values, attitudes, communication and negotiation skills, as well as biological aspects of reproduction. The media has encouraged open dialogue and the health-care system guarantees confidentiality and a non-judgmental approach.[62]

In the developing world, programs of reproductive health aimed at teenagers are often small scale and not centrally coordinated, although some countries such as Indonesia and Sri Lanka have a systematic policy framework for teaching about sex within schools.[12] Non-governmental agencies such as the International Planned Parenthood Federation provide contraceptive advice for young women worldwide. Laws against child marriage have reduced but not eliminated the practice. Improved female literacy and educational prospects have led to an increase in the age at first birth in areas such as Iran, Indonesia, and the Indian state of Kerala.


Medical outcomes

Maternal and prenatal health is of particular concern among teens who are pregnant or parenting. The worldwide incidence of premature birth and low birth weight is higher among adolescent mothers.[5][6][63] Research indicates that pregnant teens are less likely to receive prenatal care, often seeking it in the third trimester, if at all.[5] The Guttmacher Institute reports that one-third of pregnant teens receive insufficient prenatal care and that their children are more likely to suffer from health issues in childhood or be hospitalized than those born to older women.[64] However, studies have indicated that young mothers who are given high-quality maternity care have significantly healthier babies than those that do not. Many of the health-issues associated with teenage mothers, many of whom do not have health insurance, appear to result from lack of access to high-quality medical care.[65] Many pregnant teens are subject to nutritional deficiencies from poor eating habits common in adolescence, including attempts to lose weight through dieting, skipping meals, food faddism, snacking, and consumption of fast food.[66]

Inadequate nutrition during pregnancy is an even more marked problem among teenagers in developing countries.[67][68] Complications of pregnancy result in the deaths of an estimated 70,000 teen girls in developing countries each year. Young mothers and their babies are also at greater risk of contracting HIV.[4] The World Health Organization estimates that the risk of death following pregnancy is twice as great for women between 15 and 19 years than for those between the ages of 20 and 24. The maternal mortality rate can be up to five times higher for girls aged between 10 and 14 than for women of about twenty years of age. Illegal abortion also holds many risks for teenage girls in areas such as sub-Saharan Africa.[11]

Risks for medical complications are greater for girls 14 years of age and younger, as an underdeveloped pelvis can lead to difficulties in childbirth. Obstructed labour is normally dealt with by Caesarean section in industrialized nations; however, in developing regions where medical services might be unavailable, it can lead to eclampsia, obstetric fistula, infant mortality, or maternal death.[4] For mothers in their late teens, age in itself is not a risk factor, and poor outcomes are associated more with socioeconomic factors rather than with biology.[5]

Socioeconomic and psychological outcomes

Several studies have examined the socioeconomic, medical, and psychological impact of pregnancy and parenthood in teens. Life outcomes for teenage mothers and their children vary; other factors, such as poverty or social support, may be more important than the age of the mother at the birth. Many solutions to counteract the more negative findings have been proposed. Teenage parents who can use family and community support, social services and child-care support to continue their education and get higher paying jobs as they progress with their education.

Impact on the mother

Being a young mother in an industrialized country can affect one's education. Teen mothers are more likely to drop out of high school.[6] Recent studies, though, have found that many of these mothers had already dropped out of school prior to becoming pregnant, but those in school at the time of their pregnancy were as likely to graduate as their peers.[citation needed] One study in 2001 found that women who gave birth during their teens completed secondary-level schooling 10–12% as often and pursued post-secondary education 14–29% as often as women who waited until age 30.[69]

Young motherhood in an industrialized country can affect employment and social class. Less than one third of teenage mothers receive any form of child support, vastly increasing the likelihood of turning to the government for assistance.[70] The correlation between earlier childbearing and failure to complete high school reduces career opportunities for many young women.[6] One study found that, in 1988, 60% of teenage mothers were impoverished at the time of giving birth.[71] Additional research found that nearly 50% of all adolescent mothers sought social assistance within the first five years of their child's life.[6] A study of 100 teenaged mothers in the United Kingdom found that only 11% received a salary, while the remaining 89% were unemployed.[72] Most British teenage mothers live in poverty, with nearly half in the bottom fifth of the income distribution.[73] Teenage women who are pregnant or mothers are seven times more likely to commit suicide than other teenagers.[74] Professor John Ermisch at the institute of social and economic research at Essex University and Dr Roger Ingham, director of the centre of sexual health at Southampton University – found that comparing teenage mothers with other girls with similarly deprived social-economic profiles, bad school experiences and low educational aspirations, the difference in their respective life chances was negligible.[75]

Teenage Motherhood may actually make economic sense for poorer young women, some research suggests. For instance, long-term studies by Duke economist V. Joseph Hotz and colleagues, published in 2005, found that by age 35, former teen moms had earned more in income, paid more in taxes, were substantially less likely to live in poverty and collected less in public assistance than similarly poor women who waited until their 20s to have babies. Women who became mothers in their teens — freed from child-raising duties by their late 20s and early 30s to pursue employment while poorer women who waited to become moms were still stuck at home watching their young children — wound up paying more in taxes than they had collected in welfare.[76] Eight years earlier, the federally commissioned report "Kids Having Kids" also contained a similar finding, though it was buried: "Adolescent childbearers fare slightly better than later-childbearing counterparts in terms of their overall economic welfare."[citation needed]

One-fourth of adolescent mothers will have a second child within 24 months of the first. Factors that determine which mothers are more likely to have a closely-spaced repeat birth include marriage and education: the likelihood decreases with the level of education of the young woman – or her parents – and increases if she gets married.[77]

Impact on the child

Early motherhood can affect the psychosocial development of the infant. The occurrence of developmental disabilities and behavioral issues is increased in children born to teen mothers.[78][79] One study suggested that adolescent mothers are less likely to stimulate their infant through affectionate behaviors such as touch, smiling, and verbal communication, or to be sensitive and accepting toward his or her needs.[78] Another found that those who had more social support were less likely to show anger toward their children or to rely upon punishment.[80]

Poor academic performance in the children of teenage mothers has also been noted, with many of them being more likely than average to fail to graduate from secondary school, be held back a grade level, or score lower on standardized tests.[6] Daughters born to adolescent parents are more likely to become teen mothers themselves.[6][58] A son born to a young woman in her teens is three times more likely to serve time in prison.[81]

Impact on other family members

Teen pregnancy and motherhood can influence younger siblings. One study found that the younger sisters of teen mothers were less likely to emphasize the importance of education and employment and more likely to accept human sexual behavior, parenting, and marriage at younger ages; younger brothers, too, were found to be more tolerant of non-marital and early births, in addition to being more susceptible to high-risk behaviors.[82] An additional study discovered that those with an older sibling who is a teen parent often end up babysitting their nieces and nephews and that young girls placed in such a situation have an increased risk of getting pregnant themselves.[57] Social workers play an important role in intervention with families.[citation needed] They work with the families to address common problems and health issues in order to promote a positive outcome for both the family and the baby.

Teenage fatherhood

In some cases, the father of the child is the husband of the teenage girl. The conception may occur within wedlock, or the pregnancy itself may precipitate the marriage (the so-called shotgun wedding). In countries such as India the majority of teenage births occur within marriage.[3][12]

In other countries, such as the United States and the Republic of Ireland, the majority of teenage mothers are not married to the fathers of their children.[3][83] In the UK, half of all teenagers with children are lone parents, 40% are cohabitating as a couple and 10% are married.[84] Teenage parents are frequently in a romantic relationship at the time of birth, but many adolescent fathers do not stay with the mother and this often disrupts their relationship with the child. Research has shown that when teenage fathers are included in decision-making during pregnancy and birth, they are more likely to report increased involvement with their children in later years.[85] In the U.S, eight out of ten teenage fathers do not marry their child's mother.[86]

However, "teenage father" may be a misnomer in many cases. Studies by the Population Reference Bureau and the National Center for Health Statistics found that about two-thirds of births to teenage girls in the United States are fathered by adult men age 20 or older.[87][88] The Guttmacher Institute reports that over 40 percent of mothers aged 15–17 had sexual partners three to five years older and almost one in five had partners six or more years older.[89] A 1990 study of births to California teens reported that the younger the mother, the greater the age gap with her male partner.[90] In the UK 72% of jointly registered births to women under the age of 20, the father is over the age of 20, with almost 1 in 4 being over 25.[91]

List of famous teenage parents

Pre-20th century

20th century

  • Ann Dunham was 18 when in 1961 she gave birth to the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama.[92]
  • Naomi Judd had a girl, Christina Claire Ciminella, on May 30, 1964, the same day her high school diploma was mailed to her. Michael Ciminella was not the biological father but married Naomi to give Christina his surname. Christina is now most notably known as Wynonna Judd, an American singer.[93]
  • Dimple Kapadia.[94]
  • Tamara Beckwith dropped out of Cheltenham Ladies' College in order to have her daughter, Anouska Poppy Pearl in 1987. The father was an American Marine. Anouska is now studying acting in Los Angeles.[95]
  • Dwayne Michael Carter Jr. aka Lil’ Wayne had his baby, Reginae, with his now ex-wife Antonia "Toya" Johnson when he was 15 and she 14.[96][97]
  • Child actress turned diplomat Shirley Temple was 19 when she gave birth to her first child, Linda Susan, in 1948.[98][99][100]

21st century

  • Pop singer Fantasia Barrino, winner of American Idol 2004, was 17 when she gave birth to a daughter named Zion Quari' in 2001; in 2005 she released a controversial song about single motherhood titled Baby Mama.[101]
  • Taylor Hanson, a member of the pop band Hanson, was 19 when his 18-year-old wife Natalie gave birth to their first child, a son named Jordan Ezra, in 2002.[102]
  • Yulia Volkova, of the controversial Russian pop band t.A.T.u., was 19 when she gave birth to her daughter Viktoria Pavlovna Volkova in September 2004; she had spoken publicly about having an abortion the year before.[103]
  • Singer and actress Solange Knowles was 18 when she gave birth to her first child, Daniel Julez Smith Junior, in October, 2004.[104][105]
  • Asia Nitollano, who joined the pop group The Pussycat Dolls after winning a reality tv show, was 17 when she gave birth to her daughter in 2005.[106][107][108]
  • Oscar-nominated actress Keisha Castle-Hughes was 17 when she gave birth to her first child, a girl named Felicity-Amore, in 2007.[109]
  • Jamie Lynn Spears, who is the younger sister of pop singer Britney Spears, gave birth to daughter Maddie Briann Aldridge at 17 on June 19, 2008. The father is Casey Aldridge. She announced she was pregnant at just 16.[110]
  • Bristol Palin, 18, the teenage daughter of John McCain's 2008 vice presidential candidate former[111] Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin, gave birth on December 27, 2008 to a son named Tripp.[112]
  • Lou Doillon, French actress and daughter of Jane Birkin, gave birth to son Marlowe Jack Tiger Mitchell in 2002 at age 19.[113]

Agencies Involved in the Lowering of High Pregnancy Rates in the US

Recently, the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy was formed. They are dedicated to solving the issue of teen pregnancy in the United States. Another US organization dedicated to the prevention of unplanned pregnancy in teens is Stay Teen, an ad campaign and website.

Every year since 2002, this campaign celebrates the National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy on the first Wednesday of May. President Barack Obama has publicly supported this day.[114]

In the arts, films and literature

Teenage pregnancy has been used as a theme or plot device in fiction, including books, films, and television series. The setting may be historical (The Blue Lagoon, Hope and Glory) or contemporary (One Tree Hill). While the subject is generally treated in a serious manner (Junk), it can sometimes play up to stereotypes in a comic manner (Vicky Pollard in Little Britain).

The pregnancy itself may be the result of sexual abuse (Rose in The Cider House Rules), a one-night stand (Amy Barnes in Hollyoaks), a romantic relationship (Demi Miller in EastEnders); or a first time sexual encounter (Sarah-Louise Platt in Coronation Street) unusually, in Quinceañera, the central character becomes pregnant through non-penetrative sex. The drama often focuses around the discovery of the pregnancy and the decision to opt for abortion (Fast Times at Ridgemont High), adoption (Mom at Sixteen, Juno), marriage (Sugar & Spice, Reba and Jeni, Juno) or life as a single mother (Saved!, Where the Heart Is, Someone Like You). In the German play Spring Awakening (and the Broadway musical based upon it), the central female character gets pregnant and dies from a botched abortion. Stephanie Daley deals with the aftermath of a teenage pregnancy that ends with a dead newborn baby. While the pregnant girl herself is normally the chief protagonist, Too Young to Be a Dad centers on a 15-year-old boy whose girlfriend becomes pregnant, while The Snapper focuses on the reactions of the family, particularly the soon-to-be grandfather.

Other fiction, particularly in a long-running television series, looks at the long-term effects of becoming a parent at a very young age (Degrassi Junior High). In Gilmore Girls, because Lorelai Gilmore is only 16 years older than her daughter Rory, the two are more like sisters than parent and child. Looking for Alibrandi also features the teenage daughter of a woman who was herself a teenage mother. In The George Lopez Show, Benny Lopez, Deborah Engerman gave birth to George at 16. In the ABC Family television show The Secret Life of the American Teenager centers on Amy Juergens, a 15 year old who becomes a teenage mother after a one night stand. In the popular Comedy Central television show South Park the character Carol McCormick was said to have had her sons Kevin McCormick at 13, and Kenny McCormick at 16.

Additionally, reality television shows have featured teenage pregnancy stories. MTV launched two reality shows about the topic, 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom, in 2009. Autobiographies that look at the author’s own experience of teenage motherhood include I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and Gather Together in My Name by Maya Angelou, Coal Miner's Daughter by Loretta Lynn, and Riding in Cars with Boys by Beverly D'Onofrio.

Songs about teenage pregnancy include downbeat tales of abuse ("Brenda's Got a Baby"), poverty ("In The Ghetto") and back-alley abortion ("Sally's Pigeons"), as well as upbeat and defiant tunes such as "Papa Don't Preach". American pop singer Fantasia Barrino, who was 17 when she gave birth to her daughter, released a controversial song about single motherhood titled "Baby Mama", describing the difficulty of raising a child alone with limited financial and family support. (Many U.S. radio stations would not play the song, ostensibly because it contains a profanity.) "There Goes My Life", a modern country song by Kenny Chesney, focuses on the reaction of the father, who rhetorically asks, "I'm just a kid myself; how am I going to raise one?" As the daughter grows up, his attitude changes, and the song ends with his tearful farewell as she leaves for college. Due to its implied pro-life message, "There Goes My Life" was sung at the inauguration of George W. Bush in 2005[citation needed].

See also


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Further reading

  • Adams, A., & D'Souza, R. (2009). Teenage contraception. General Practice Update, 2(6), 36-39. Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database.
  • Banerjee, B., Pandey, G., Dutt, D., Sengupta, B., Mondal, M., & Deb, S. (2009). Teenage Pregnancy: A Socially Inflicted Health Hazard. Indian Journal of Community Medicine, 34(3), 227-231. doi:10.4103/0970-0218.55289.
  • Macleod, C. (1999). The 'causes' of teenage pregnancy: Review of South African research—Part 2. South African Journal of Psychology, 29(1), 8. Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database.
  • Armstrong, Bruce (2001). "Adolescent Pregnancy". in Alex Gitterman. Handbook of Social Work Practice with Vulnerable and Resilient Populations (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Columbia University Press. ISBN 023111396X. 
  • Checkland, David and James Wong (1999). Teen Pregnancy and Parenting: Social and Ethical Issues. Toronto, Canada; Buffalo, NY: University of Toronto Press. ISBN 0802042155. 
  • Dash, Leon (2003, 1989). When Children want Children: The Urban Crisis of Teenage Childbearing (1st Illinois paperback ed.). Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press. ISBN 0252071239. 
  • Erickson, Pamela I. (1998). Latina Adolescent Childbearing in East Los Angeles. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press. ISBN 0292720939. 
  • Kaplan, Elaine Bell (1997). Not Our Kind of Girl: Unraveling the Myths of Black Teenage Motherhood. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. ISBN 0520087364. 
  • Harris, Irving B. (1996). Children in Jeopardy: Can We Break the Cycle of Poverty?. New Haven, CT: Yale Child Study Center: Distributed by Yale University Press. ISBN 0300068921. 
  • Luker, Kristin (1996). Dubious Conceptions: The Politics of Teenage Pregnancy. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. ISBN 0674217020. 
  • Rhode, Deborah L. (2007). "Politics and Pregnancy: Adolescent Mothers and Public Policy". in Nancy Ehrenreich. The Reproductive Rights Reader. New York, NY: New York University Press. ISBN 9780814722305. 
  • Seitz, Victoria (1996). "Adolescent Pregnancy and Parenting". in Edward Zigler, Sharon Lynn Kagan, and Nancy Wilson Hall. Children, Families, and Government: Preparing for the Twenty-First Century. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521242193. 
  • Silverstein, Helena (2007). Girls on the Stand: How Courts Fail Pregnant Minors. New York, NY: New York University Press. ISBN 9780814740316. 

External links



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