Teen Pregnancy – The Statistics, Risk Factors and Prevention

Reviewing Teen Pregnancy With The Associated Risks and Preventative Measures

teen pregnancyAccording to the U.S. government, 1100 teenagers mostly aged between 18 and 19 give birth every day in the U.S.A. The WHO, on the other hand, puts figures of global teenage pregnancies between 15 and 19 years old at around 16 million every year – this is about 11% of the recorded annual worldwide births.

However, while research shows that reported cases of teen pregnancy in the U.S.A. have significantly dropped since 1991, the problem still remains a challenge for many teenagers around the world.

Causes of teen pregnancy

While there are numerous social and economic aspects that contribute to teen pregnancy around the world, ignorance about the dangers of early and unprotected sex among teenagers is the biggest cause of teenage pregnancy. Where other preventative measures such as abstinence from sex fail, it is important that teenagers realize the importance of protected sex for both their health and for preventing early pregnancy.

Other causes of teen pregnancy include:

  • Peer pressure

Often girls will engage in unsafe sex naively out of pressure by their friends while trying to fit in. Consequently, these girls are at a higher chance of getting pregnant of contracting STDs as they do not take the proper preventative measures and may have sex with multiple partners.

  • Economic hardships

Lack of money and the persistent need for sustenance has also been shown to significantly contribute to teenage pregnancy. This is especially rampant in the developing and undeveloped countries where teenagers are more likely to engage in prostitution.

Risk factors associated with teen pregnancy

Teenage pregnancy comes with a lot of social and economic complications for the teenage mother and the baby – the teenager’s parents may also be affected in small societies that discourage teen pregnancy. Additionally, doctors also associate teenage pregnancy with a range of health complications for both the baby and the mothers.

Risk factors for the mother

Research shows that teenage mothers are 14 times more likely to develop medical conditions associated with pregnancy, including:

  • Anemia

Owing to low blood levels, pregnant teenagers stand a higher chance of suffering from anemia – a condition whereby the red blood cells in the body are insufficient. This is partly blamed on the need for more iron in the body owing to the developing fetus and the failure to eat a well-balanced diet and go through with prenatal care.

  • Postpartum depression

Postpartum depression brings about a negative mood characterized by depression, sadness, anger, and anxiety among other emotions. It can occur at any time during the first year after giving birth. According to the BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, teenage mothers are twice likely to deal with postpartum depression as compared to older women.

Risk factors for the child

The unborn baby also faces a lot of risks and problems that may significantly affect his/her health and welfare after birth. These include:

  • Premature birth

Where health conditions such as anemia and others arise, it becomes harder for the young body to support the fetus, leading to premature birth. Consequently, this increases the infant’s chances of dying during birth or sometime after, as the body’s organs are often not fully developed.

  • Low birth weight

Unlike older women, teenagers may shun eating when pregnant while this is the time to ensure one always eats a balanced diet. This leads to poor development of the fetus, which is evidenced by low birth weight – an infant weighing less than 5.5lbs during birth. Usually, this also affects the formation and development of organs such as the brain, liver, and kidneys and may lead to internal bleeding or disabilities and deformities in the future.

Prevention measures for teen pregnancy

Numerous initiatives have been developed to curb the levels of teenage pregnancy around the world. Concerned parents also have diverse measures in place to protect their teenage children from early pregnancy.

However, despite this diversity, no measure is as effective as education about sex. Teenagers, girls and boys alike, need to understand the implications of early and unprotected sex if they are to give the matter a second thought before engaging in sex blindly. As such, comprehensive sex education should be given regarding the essence and importance of sex, sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy and its consequences for teenagers, among other aspects.

Other preventative measures include:

  • Abstinence

Teenagers need to be taught the importance of abstaining from early sex through sex education and by nurturing positive values and morals through good parenting. This will not only help to reduce the number of teen pregnancies, but also the spread of STDs among teenagers.

  • Use of contraceptives

It is important to acknowledge the fact that teenagers have the will and means to engage in sex if they so wish. As such, it is also important to acknowledge that education about the use of contraceptives is important, even though it may seem improper.

Teenagers should learn the importance of safe sex and the role different contraceptives play in this. Additionally, they need to know how to use these contraceptives to avoid pregnancies and spread of STDs. This can be tackled either at school as a general learning program or at home by parents, guardians or even counselors.

Conclusion

Despite all measures taken by the government and welfare organizations, it is important to realize that prevention of teen pregnancy and associated problems such as STDs depends on the teenagers themselves. To this end, sexual education should be given to both boys and girls when they turn 13 or 14 and parents should encourage their kids to be open about matters to do with sex and issues related to teen pregnancy.