The teen pregnancy rate is one of the most persistent issues in the modern community. Thanks to the coordinated efforts of the federal, state, and local players, the incidence of the phenomenon was steadily decreasing over the last decade. However, the overall decrease does not represent the complete picture as the disaggregated data shows that certain population segments, namely the Hispanic and black populations, have shown less success in decreasing the pregnancy rates. While it is certainly tempting to dismiss the issue because the general trend is indicative of improvement and thus favorable, the problem is associated with several far-reaching social and cultural problems that require immediate attention. If we are to consider the well-being of our community a priority, it would be reasonable to turn our attention to the issue and develop ways of improving the situation as soon as possible.
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The issue of teen pregnancy is a well-established concern in the field of healthcare, dating back to the second half of the twentieth century. The awareness of the problem and numerous solutions intended to address it yielded positive results, such as an approximately twofold decrease in pregnancy rates from 2006 to 2014 (Romero et al., 2016). However, the rates for white, black, and Hispanic populations within these numbers vary wildly, with the former scoring more than twice lower than the latter two. The tendency is observed throughout the data, which means that black and Hispanic teens are still twice as likely to become pregnant (Romero et al., 2016).
As was mentioned above, the issue leads to several health problems for both mothers and their children. First, young maternal age is associated with the highest risk of adverse health effects – mothers that give birth at 18 years or younger are at the highest risk (Kozuki et al., 2013). It is also more likely that the children born as a result of teen pregnancy are small for gestation, which further decreases their overall health state (Kozuki et al., 2013). The combination of these factors results in the compromised public health of a significant proportion of the population, which is especially relevant considering the current multicultural setting. Finally, the additional health care required for adolescent birth greatly increases the expenses for the provider. According to the estimates, the overall cost of adolescent pregnancy exceeded $9 billion, which amounts to more than 15 percent of the total cost of pregnancy and postpartum care in the United States.
Unfortunately, the problems are not limited to direct expenses. The girls who give birth at a young age experience significant difficulties in attending college and, as a result, are limited in their career opportunities. In other words, the issue demonstrates the features of a vicious circle, where the phenomenon has self-sustaining properties and is unlikely to resolve without external intervention. The situation is further aggravated by the fact that the children who can observe the occurrence of pregnancy are more likely to adhere to it as a favorable prototype and, as a result, engage in risky sexual behaviors later in life.
I believe that early pregnancy is a serious psychological, social, and emotional challenge. I would also like to emphasize that the issue is closely tied to the ability to make an informed decision, which places the issue in the domain of human rights. However, even aside from these considerations, it would be unreasonable to ignore the massive socioeconomic implications of the problem, not to mention the apparent and far-reaching adverse health effects associated with it. Therefore, providing long-term, viable solutions would yield significant improvements to all stakeholders and should be considered a priority.
Kozuki, N., Lee, A. C., Silveira, M. F., Sania, A., Vogel, J. P., Adair, L.,… Humphrey, J. (2013). The associations of parity and maternal age with small-for-gestational-age, preterm, and neonatal and infant mortality: A meta-analysis. BMC Public Health, 13(3), 1-10.
Romero, L., Pazol, K., Warner, L., Cox, S., Kroelinger, C., Besera, G.,… Barfield, W. (2016). Reduced disparities in birth rates among teens aged 15–19 years — United States, 2006–2007 and 2013–2014. MMWR: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 65(16), 409-414.
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