Many teens don’t think about how pregnancy at a young age could affect their lives. According to the StayTeen.org website, 3 in 10 teenage girls in the U.S. get pregnant at least once before turning 20. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention share that teen birth rates are nine times higher in the U.S. than in other developed countries. Furthermore, of the nation’s teen moms, 25 percent are likely to have a second child within two years of the first birth.
Teen girls who are pregnant experience many of the same physical symptoms as pregnant adult women, like nausea, fatigue and cravings. WebMD, however, explains that pregnant teens experience “unique medical risks” because their bodies are still developing. Teens who are pregnant generally experience a lack in prenatal care, especially if there is little support from their parents. This can result in a birth defects, premature birth or low birth weights. Pregnant teens are also more at risk than adults for developing pregnancy-induced hypertension, or high blood pressure, which can lead to preeclampsia.
As a teen matures, the surge of hormones and the natural development of her brain can make her feel emotional. The hormones that affect a teen when she is pregnant may heighten her emotions. WebMD shares that teen moms are at a higher risk for postpartum depression than adults who give birth. If left untreated, postpartum depression in a teen can affect her development and her infant’s quality of care.
When a teen becomes pregnant, she may miss school so she can keep prenatal care appointments or if her physician orders bed rest. The young person may also miss additional days of school if she gives birth during the school year. The dropout rate among teen mothers in the U.S. is high, and this population represents a large percentage of the total high school dropouts, according to the CDC. Only about half of teen mothers earn a high school diploma by the time they turn 22, and earning a diploma may be more difficult for teen moms who have a second child.
Being a pregnant teen or a teen mom can put a strain on a young person’s social life. If the pregnancy places a financial strain on the teen and on her family, she may have work, which limits the time that she can spend with her friends. A Guttenmacher Institute study found that most of the friends that pregnant teens or teens mom in California have are peers or siblings who are in a similar situation. The study also found that a large percentage of teen moms often find themselves homeless, in non-permanent living situations, as they move between the homes of friends, siblings, other family members and baby’s father.