Teenage Pregnancy

Teenage Pregnancy

Alternate Names

  • adolescent pregnancy

Definition

Teenage pregnancy is a pregnancy that occurs in an adolescent. An adolescent is a female who has reached puberty and is 19 years old or younger.

Risks

What are the causes and risks of the condition?

The ultimate cause of teenage pregnancy is unprotected intercourse. This results in fertilization of the egg by the sperm. Risk factors associated with teenage pregnancy include:
  • delinquency
  • depression
  • exposure to child abuse
  • high-risk behaviors, such as smoking, alcohol use, and drug abuse
  • limited job opportunities
  • low academic interest and achievement
  • poverty
  • previous unplanned teenage pregnancy
  • sexual abuse
  • single-parent homes
  • social isolation
  • stress
  • trouble in school or with the law
  • non-attendance of church or synagogue

Prevention

What can be done to prevent the condition?

Programs that delay attempts at teach abstinence to prevent sexual intercourse are the first line of defense and constitutes primary prevention. Parents can have open, honest, and educational talks at home. Parents and others who guide teens (teachers, pastoral professionals, coaches, etc.) may now avail themselves of excellent programs to obtain abstinence educational materials.
The second line of defense (or secondary prevention) for teenage pregnancy occurs in teens who choose to be sexually active and include a variety of birth control techniques.

Diagnosed

How is the condition diagnosed?

The diagnosis of pregnancy begins with a medical history and physical exam. Any teenage woman with irregular or absent periods should have a serum pregnancy test. An early diagnosis of pregnancy helps the teenager to adjust emotionally and physically. Early prenatal care is essential.

Long Term Effects

What are the long-term effects of the condition?

The long-term effects of teenage pregnancy are far reaching. Single motherhood is associated with the following:
  • additional unwanted pregnancies
  • child behavioral problems
  • continued poverty and welfare dependency
  • depression
  • exposure to domestic violence
  • limited job opportunities
  • low level of education
  • medical problems, such as pelvic inflammatory disease
  • social isolation
  • substance abuse
The birth of an infant can be overwhelming to a teen mother and her family. The needs of the infant may be too difficult for the teen to deal with, especially if family support is inconsistent or absent.

Other Risks

What are the risks to others?

Infants born to teenage mothers are at higher risk of the following:
  • unintentional injury or poisoning
  • behavior problems
  • complications of prematurity
  • developmental delays and learning disabilities
  • exposure to domestic violence
  • lack of immunization or vaccinations
  • minor acute infections
  • poverty
  • premature birth
  • sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)

Treatments

What are the treatments for the condition?

A pregnant teenager should be treated for sexually transmitted infections as needed. Counseling about the signs of early labor should be given. An evaluation by a social worker during the pregnancy is advisable. This is done to determine the home environment in which the infant will live.
The pregnancy may end or be ended in the following ways:
  • miscarriage
  • elective medical abortion
  • elective surgical abortion
  • vaginal delivery
  • caesarian birth
Medications used during these procedures include the following:
  • anesthesia
  • antibiotics to prevent or treat infection
  • medications to prevent labor
  • medicines to start labor
  • pain medications

Side Effects

What are the side effects of the treatments?

Abortion, miscarriage, and delivery can all be complicated by bleeding, infection, or allergic reactions to pain medications. Medications used can cause stomach upset, rash, and allergic reactions.

After Treatment

What happens after treatment for the condition?

Birth control counseling can help prevent repeat teenage pregnancies. Abstinence, that is, not having sex, should also be discussed.

Monitor

How is the condition monitored?

The health of mother and baby are monitored by regular visits to the healthcare professional. Any new or worsening symptoms should be reported.

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