Recent statistics have shown a continuing increase in teen pregnancy in theUnited States. This increase is of particular concern because teen mothers andtheir babies face increased risks to their health.
The birth rate for youngteens (age 15 to 17) is steadily rising. Between 1986 and 1991, the rateincreased by 27 percent (from a rate of 30. 5 to a rate of 38. 7 per 1,000 women). In 1991 (the most recent year for which data are available), nearly 4 in 100girls ages 15 to 17 had a baby.
(1) About 1 million teenagers become pregnanteach year, and more than 530,000 give birth. (1) Nearly 13% of all U. S. births in1991 were to teens. (1) Teenage Pregnancy Essay and birth rates in the U. S.Order now
exceedthose in most developed countries. (2) Teens too often have poor eating habits,and may smoke, drink alcohol and take drugs, increasing the risk that theirbabies will be born with health problems. Pregnant teens are least likely of allmaternal age groups to get early and regular prenatal care. In 1991,11 percentof teen mothers received late or no prenatal care.
(1) (The overall average is 6percent. ) A teenage mother is more at risk of pregnancy complications such aspremature or prolonged labor, anemia and high blood pressure. These risks areeven greater for teens who are less than 15 years old. (3) Three million teensare affected by sexually transmitted diseases annually, out of the 12 millioncases reported.
(4) These include chlamydia (which can cause sterility), syphilis(which can cause blindess, death, and death to the infant) and AIDS, which isfatal to the mother and can infect the infant. A baby born to a teenage motheris more at risk than a baby born to an older mother. Nine percent of teenagegirls have low-birthweight babies (under 5. 5 lbs. ), compared to 7 percent of allmothers nationally.
(1) Low-birthweight babies may have organs that are not fullydeveloped. This can lead to lung problems such as respiratory distress syndrome,or bleeding in the brain. Low-birthweight babies are 40 times more likely to diein their first month of life than normal-weight babies. Life is often difficultfor a teenage mother and her child.
One in three teen mothers drops out of highschool. With her education cut short, a teenage mother may lack job skills,making it hard for her to find and keep a job. A teenage mother may becomefinancially dependent on her family or on welfare. Teens may not have developedgood parenting skills, or have social-support systems to help them deal with thestress of raising an infant. The March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation Themission of the March of Dimes is to improve the health of babies by preventingbirth defects and infant mortality.
Through its Campaign for Healthier Babies,the March of Dimes funds programs of research, community services, education andadvocacy. Because of the risks involved in teen pregnancy to both mother andchild, the March of Dimes strongly urges teenage girls to delay childbearing. Teens who are already pregnant can improve their chances of having a healthybaby by: ~Getting early and regular prenatal care from a doctor or clinic. ~Eating a nutritious and balanced diet.
~Consuming 0. 4 milligrams of folic acid(the amount found in most multivitamin supplements) daily to reduce the risk ofserious birth defects of the brain and spine. ~Avoiding smoking (and secondhandsmoke when possible) and alcoholic beverages. ~Avoiding all drugs, unlessrecommended by a doctor or health care provider who is aware of the pregnancy.
Programs and educational materials relating to teen pregnancy are available fromthe March of Dimes, including the brochures, "Teens Talk Sex,""Teens Talk Drugs" and "AIDS. . . What We Need to Know" and the"Clear Vision" and "Rockabye" audiovisuals, which are aimedat the junior high and high school audience.
Contact your local March of Dimeschapter for ordering information.Health Care .