Adolescent pregnancy which is also known as teen pregnancy is the pregnancy that happens in females who are under 20 years of age. Once a woman starts to ovulate, she can become pregnant through sexual intercourse even in her first menstrual period(menarche). Menarche usually takes place at the age around 12 or 13 years. Pregnant teenagers face many biological challenges as their bodies are yet to be physically developed to sustain the developing child and also to give birth. Risks of low birth weight and premature labor are high. According to Holness, Over 1100 teenagers are reported to give birth in united states every day (2014).
Several factors lead to teen pregnancy:
Culture. There are societies which have the tradition where girls are required to marry young. They are exposed to sexual activities at a young age and conceive while young. Early pregnancies are seen as blessings, and the young girls are encouraged to bear children as soon as they marry.
Other family members. Younger siblings can be affected by motherhood around them. A study showed that younger sisters of a teen mother are also likely to get involved in early sexual behavior. Similarly, a teen mother who has daughters helping her in babysitting can see the daughters get pregnant themselves.
Drug abuse. Drugs give courage even to the shyest teens to involve themselves in risky behavior like sex. Drugs also impair the judgment of an individual, therefore, a teen who is under the influence of a drug may forget to use a protection such as a condom.
Early puberty. Some girls mature very first, and they may start involving themselves in sexual activities at a younger age increases the risk of teenage pregnancy.
Poverty. Girls from economically poor backgrounds registered a higher number of early teen pregnancy than those who are from economically stable backgrounds. In a feat of survival, poor girls may get into early marriages or give in to men’s sexual needs so that they can get money.
Dating violence. Research shows that teen who gets pregnant was in an abusive relationship at the time of the pregnancy. According to Lily (2012), 70% of teenage mothers had been physically abused by their boyfriends in California state.
Lack of contraceptives. The teen may lack proper knowledge of contraceptives. They may also be too embarrassed to seek such information either from specialists or older women. They fear to be judged, and they end up having unprotected sex.
Community and the state at large have worked for hand in hand to reduce the rate of teen pregnancy. Organizations in the united states have been giving free comprehensive sex education and also access to birth control services. It has reduced unplanned teenage pregnancy. Research shows that pregnancies have been reduced by 80% and abortions by around 75% (Desai, Jones ; Castle, 2017). $155 million was approved by the U.S Department of health on September 30, 2010. The new funding was meant to provide comprehensive education programs. The money is being granted to states, universities and non-profit organizations and the main aim is to reduce teen pregnancy. International planned parenthood federation which is a non-governmental agency has been providing contraceptive advice.
In California, teen pregnancy rate has decreased constantly since 2007 with a 7% (Horton,2017). The Guttmacher Institute has done research and reported that few cases of abortions and teen pregnancies are being registered in hospitals. It also attributed that 25% of the decline in pregnancies is due to abstinence and 75% is due to efficient use of birth control measures mainly contraceptives.
Desai, S., Jones, R., ; Castle, K. (2017). Estimating abortion provision and abortion referrals among United States obstetrician-gynecologists in private practice. Contraception, 6(65). http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.contraception.2017.11.004 Holness, N. (2014). A global perspective on adolescent pregnancy. International Journal Of Nursing Practice, 21(5), 677-681. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/ijn.12278 Horton, H. (2017). Sex Education and Teen Pregnancy Rates in the United States: A Study of California Public Schools. The Eagle Feather, 2(12). http://dx.doi.org/10.12794/tef.2015.336
Lily, H. (2012). Dating violence (1st ed., pp. 31-45). California: Rosen Pub.