Teenage pregnancy or pregnancy at a very early stage is defined in different countries in different ways. For instance, in the United States, it is defined as an under-aged girl becoming pregnant, whereas, in the United Kingdom, there is a legal definition whereby a woman is considered to be a pregnant teenager if she falls pregnant before her 18th birthday (Wikipedia).
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Pregnancy and the responsibilities that come with is not an easy task. Pregnancy at a very young age, especially before the college days, can have serious problems of health of both the mother and child. Besides, a pregnant teenager may face many of the obstetrics issues as women in their 20s and 30s, but there are additional medical concerns for younger mothers, especially those under the age of 15 (Mayor 1152).
According to a report of the fifth annual State of the World’s Mothers, published by the international charity Save the Children it was found that 13 million births that account to a tenth of all births worldwide each year are to women aged under the age of 20, and they also reported that more than 90% of these births are in developing countries.
These figures also showed that girls in this age group were two times as likely as older women to die from causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. Besides, the babies born to young mothers were 50% more likely to die than children born to women in their 20s.
Studies have also found that the youngest mothers, especially those aged 14 and less, are faced with the greatest risks. It was found that obstructed labor to be common in teenage girls, resulting in the amplified risk of infant death and maternal death.
In the ten highest risk countries, more than one in six teenage girls aged 15 to 19 gave birth each year, and nearly one in seven babies born to these teenagers died before their first birthday. Studies also showed that young mothers and their babies were at greater risk of contracting HIV (Mayor 1152).
In general, it is said that if a woman is well educated, it is good for the family and children’s future. Schooling is important to a young woman’s prospects throughout her life. This is because the amount of schooling a woman obtains affects her occupation, her income, her chances of marriage, her risk of poverty and welfare dependence, and moreover the quality of her own life and that of her children (Adler et al. 15-24).
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Today in most parts of the world, the importance of schooling is well recognized, especially for girls. Motherhood is an important and special event in a women’s life because childrearing consumes time and energy, and most women bear the primary burden of child care. In the case of young mothers caring for and rearing children consumes time and energy that could otherwise be spent on schooling, work, and leisure-time activities.
Additionally, coping with the demands of an infant is likely to be even more challenging and stressful for a teenager who is not mentally and physically prepared for when compared to an older woman. Therefore, it is expected that early child-bearers are less likely than their childless peers to complete high school and to complete some college.
Studies have found that women who have a child at a young age differ at first from those who do not. For instance, their mother’s education is generally lower, they are more likely to come from a single-parent family, and they have more siblings (Geronimus and Korenman 1187-1214). Such young women are less likely to delay sexual activity and are more likely to bear and raise a child if they become pregnant (Hofferth and Hayes).
Today, teenage pregnancies have turn out to be a public health issue because of their negative effects on prenatal outcomes and long-term morbidity. Additionally, there is a high prevalence of poverty, low level of education, and single marital status among teenage mothers.
They are also not able to give better education to their children as they themselves do not know the value of education. In most cases, young mothers would have to undergo financial crises and health problems. It is important to prevent teenage pregnancy through proper education. Schools and colleges around the world can take this responsibility and also create awareness among the general public to prevent such social problems.
Adler N.E. et al., Socioeconomic status and health, American Psychologist, 1994, 49(1):15-24.
Geronimus A. and Korenman S., The socioeconomic consequences of teen childbearing reconsidered, Quarterly Journal of Economics, 1992, 107(4):1187-1214.
Hofferth S.L. and Hayes C., Risking the Future, Vol. II, Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1987.
Mayor, S. Pregnancy and childbirth are leading causes of death in teenage girls in developing countries BMJ (15 May) 2004;328:1152.
Wikipedia Teenage pregnancy Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., [28 November 2007]