Teenage Pregnancy

Every day, more than 1,100 children are born to women under age 20. Those children face a higher lifetime risk of poverty, are likely to bee less educated, and tend to experience worse life outcomes than their peers born to adult women. Happily, thanks to educational and societal efforts, teenagers are becoming better informed about the risks of pregnancy and parenting and how to avoid that fate. However, although teenage pregnancy is on the decrease in recent years, it is still common enough to be an important issue.

A number of the issues with teenage motherhood are demographic—teenage mothers, for example, are less likely to have a become pregnant in a stable long-term relationship, and that itself could lead to medical and psychological issues. Teenage motherhood is also correlated with poverty and low educational attainment, with many pregnant teenagers having dropped out of school before becoming pregnant. However, there are also medical risks that are higher in younger mothers or first-time pregnancies. That’s why, globally, pregnancy and childbirth is the second leading cause of death for girls aged 15 to 19. Teenagers are less likely than adult women to have access to prenatal care, have poorer nutrition than their adult counterparts, and are more prone to certain pregnancy complications such as preeclampsia.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of beliefs about sex an pregnancy that surveys have found are common among teenagers but that have no basis in reality. Many people, for instance, believe that the fist time a woman has sex, she can’t get pregnant. Other beliefs relate to position—woman on top, standing up—or location, such as in water, as ways to prevent pregnancy. None of these are effective.

The rumor mill also circulates contraception methods, such as jumping up and down, bathing, or going to the bathroom right after sex, or even douching after, that are ineffective. These beliefs, in combination with health curricula in some schools that may give the impression that hormonal and barrier methods do not work, can result in pregnancies that could have been avoided.

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