Special Pre-Pregnancy Conditions : The Teenage Mom (part 1) - Risk Factors

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Even though they have steadily declined in the last ten years, teen birth rates in the United States remain high enough to be considered a public health problem. Pregnant teenagers are at a higher risk than healthy adult women for several reasons. Not only is the mother at risk, but the health of the baby can also be jeopardized. Teenaged girls have most likely not completed their own growth process. Adding pregnancy to a period of rapid growth and development of a teen certainly increases nutritional demands. In particular, the reproductive system is stressed as it is still in its own early development.

Risk Factors

Too often, teenage girls have poor eating habits and do not take daily multivitamin supplements. Coupled with higher nutritional needs, that can lead to possible complications. Other risk factors that can lead to a poor outcome for pregnant teens include the following:

• Extreme youth (younger than fifteen) and/or pregnancy less than two years after the onset of menstruation

• Poor nutrition or being under- or overweight before pregnancy

• Poor pregnancy weight gain

• Bad health, including infections, sexually transmitted diseases, preexisting anemia, smoking, or alcohol or drug use

• Poverty and lack of social support or appropriate healthcare

• Lack of general education and age-appropriate prenatal care and nutritional education in particular

• Rapid repeat pregnancies


More than a million teenage girls become pregnant each year. About 485,000 of these pregnancies result in live births.

It is a known fact that pregnant teens are least likely, out of all age groups, to get the proper prenatal care. The earlier teens get prenatal care, the better chance they have for a healthy pregnancy, delivery, and baby. Pregnant teens are at a greater risk for complications during pregnancy including premature labor, anemia, and hypertensive disorders such as high blood pressure and preeclampsia. Unfortunately, teenaged mothers are also more likely to drop out of school and to experience financial hardship.

It is essential that teens get involved in childbirth education classes that are specifically developed for the teenage population. These classes can teach teens vital information concerning pregnancy, good nutrition, and a healthy lifestyle, as well as the processes of giving birth and the factors involved in being a parent. Classes like this can also act as a support group.

 
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