Before they reach the age of 20, 30 percent of teenage girls in the U.S. get pregnant at least once, according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy on the StayTeen.org website. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that pregnant teens between the ages of 15 to 19 had a live birth rate of 3 percent in 2011. Because its effects on a young person’s life and others, the CDC states that teen pregnancy is one of its public health priorities.
On average, a healthy baby’s expenses during his first year of life amount to $10,158, according to the Mississippi Department of Human Services. This can be a large financial burden for a teen and her family, especially if the baby’s father doesn’t provide any economic support. A teen parent may need to secure employment to help cover the costs of a new baby, which may hinder the young parent’s educational success. Teen pregnancies and childbirth also affect the public as their occurrence cost U.S. taxpayers an extra $11 billion in 2008 for increases in foster care and health care rates, and lost tax revenue.
When a teen becomes pregnant and has a child, she may no longer be able to participate in the social activities that people her age enjoy. She may miss opportunities to hang out with her friends, go on dates or go to school events. Teens who have an unplanned child are more likely to have a strained or unstable relationship than those who do not, according to the National Campaign’s article “Unplanned Pregnancy.” If a teen doesn’t stay home after giving birth, she is 46 percent more likely to have one or more cohabitating relationship changes within the first five years of her child’s life.
Teen parents make up a large percentage of the high school dropouts in the U.S., according to the CDC. Furthermore, only about 50 percent of teen mothers get a high school diploma by the age of 22. Consequently, some school districts seek the funds to offer childcare programs and alternative education programs for teen parents in the high schools to help reduce its dropout rates. A teen may be afraid that she can’t make up the schoolwork that she missed while pregnant or caring for her newborn, so she gives up on her education instead of seeking alternative options. The financial burdens that come with having a baby may also make a teen parent feel as if earning an income is more important than finishing high school.
Impact on a Child’s Life
When a child is the result of an unwanted pregnancy, he is more likely to have more cognitive deficiencies than a child who is the result of an intended pregnancy, according to the National Campaign. This type of developmental delay may be due to teen mothers possibly not receiving adequate prenatal care or taking parenting classes. Teens are more likely to have preterm deliveries or babies with low birth weights, which may also lead to different developmental delays in a child. According to StayTeen.org, the daughters of teen mothers are three more likely to become teen parents and their sons are two times more likely to go to prison.