The Women's Health Resource Center
Each year, nearly one million American teenage girls become pregnant. Once a teen becomes pregnant, there are no easy choices — parenthood, abortion, adoption — all of which come at significant emotional, spiritual, financial and physical costs. Adolescent pregnancy is associated with higher rates of illness and death for both the mother and the infant and infants born to teenage girls are more likely to have premature delivery and low birth rate which raises the chances of blindness, deafness, mental retardation, cerebral palsy, and other disabilities. Teenage pregnancy is a very serious problem that impacts educational and occupational development for both the young mother and the child. In fact, less than one-third of teen mothers complete high school.
Many teenagers have experienced sex prior to age 19; However this does not mean that they are emotionally mature enough to understand the consequences of an unwanted pregnancy. Many teen mothers go on to have more children and about one-quarter have a second child within 24 months of the first birth.
Potential risk factors for teenage girls who become sexually active or pregnant include:
- Early dating behavior (under the age of 12 or 13)
- Early use of alcohol, tobacco or drugs, lack of involvement with friends, school, family or community activities
- Lack of self confidence.
What you can do…
- Talk to teens about sex, sexuality, contraception and reproduction. Open honest dialogue can prevent misinformation and high-risk behavior.
- Encourage teens to stay involved in school and community activities.
- Discourage early dating, alcohol and drug usage.
- Encourage abstinence.