Consequences of Teenage Pregnancy

The consequences of becoming pregnant while still a teenager can be grouped into three main categories:

Physical Consequences

Teenage pregnancies pose the following risks for the mother and the unborn baby:

  • Teenage girls who do not receive support from their families may not be able to avail of proper prenatal care. Prenatal care is especially necessary in the early stages of pregnancy. It involves testing for problems in the mother and baby. It also involves screening the developing baby to check if growth is taking place properly. Pregnant mothers also need to take folic acid supplements as they help to prevent birth defects. The lack of prenatal care is usually due to the delay in pregnancy testing. Some teens also go through denial when they realize that are pregnant. Others may remain in fear of telling their parents or others about the pregnancy.
  • Teenagers are still growing themselves and therefore need more nutritional support to fulfill their own requirements as well as those of the baby. Lack of proper nutrition can lead to various problems such as anemia and inadequate weight gain.
  • Females in their teens are at a higher risk for hypertension during pregnancy as compared to females in their 20s and 30s. They may also be at risk for preeclampsia. Teenage mothers need to take proper medication to manage these symptoms and prevent complications in the unborn baby.
  • Teens are at a higher risk of having premature babies. In some cases, early labor may be stopped with the help of medications and rest. In other cases, the baby may have to be delivered early. Premature babies are at a high risk of respiratory, cognitive and other complications.
  • Premature babies are likely to weigh less than full-term babies. Babies that are too small may require a ventilator to help with breathing.
  • Teens who engage in sexual relations during pregnancy may be at risk for developing sexually transmitted diseases which can enter the cervix and affect the developing baby.
  • There is a higher risk of postpartum depression in teenage mothers.
  • Pregnant teenagers who do not have adequate support from their parents may experience isolation and loneliness. As a result they may neglect their own health as well as that of the growing baby.

Emotional Consequences

  • Many teenage mothers do not complete their high school education and this may affect their self-esteem.
  • Due to the many concerns associated with teenage pregnancy, a large number of teens turn to alcohol and drugs.
  • Some teen mothers may feel stigmatized by their families or ignored by their friends.
  • There may be a feeling of bitterness or sadness when pregnant teens watch their peers engage in normal teenage activities which they are unable to participate in.
  • The responsibility of assuming the role of a parent at such a young age may take a toll on the emotional health of many teen mothers.
  • In some cases, pregnant teens may opt for abortion as a way out. Abortion has many physical, mental and emotional consequences of its own.

Financial Consequences

  • The costs of prenatal care and the expenses involved in raising a child can pose huge economic hardships for teenage mothers. They may be forced to drop out of school and take up jobs.
  • Since many teenage mothers give up their education, they may find it difficult to get decent jobs.
  • A majority of teen parents have to rely on welfare to support their families.
  • Due to the low income, teen parents may find it hard to provide the proper nutrition and care to their babies.