The Miseducation of the Teenage Mother
The past two decades have shown a decline in adolescent pregnancy but today, the United States continues to hold the number one position for highest adolescent pregnancy rates among developed countries.1 Research has found that about two in every five teenage girls become pregnant before the age of twenty years old.2 The recurrence of early childhood bearing now reaches up to 900,000 pregnancies each year in the United States.1 The various factors associated with high prevalence of teenage motherhood can be seen among communities affected by low socioeconomic status, a lack of education, and more interestingly, a new found correlation between the history of intergenerational, teenage childhood bearing with the family.2 Communities facing these problems continue to sustain such high statistical values for teenage pregnancy and have created a vicious cycle which is then adopted by following generations. Adolescent pregnancy not only creates a toll on the family, but also has adverse health effects on the child and society.
The teen pregnancy rate in the United States is four times higher than the developed European countries, such as France and Germany.3 Latina and black women make up the largest part of teen pregnancy because these groups have highly disproportionate cases of births at the early ages of 13 to 18 years old.3 These groups also face the highest rates of low socioeconomic status and low levels of education which together aggravate the pregnancy problem. An approximated 60% of females live in poverty at the time of childbearing and lack the knowledge or resources to survive economically or prevent yet another pregnancy.2 The miseducation of parents of teenage mothers also adds to the problem because they are unable to sustain their home financially. Parents are usually single mothers with a minimum paying job, which prevents looking over their own children during the day. Such lax parenting leads to high rates of school absences among teens, thus facilitating the occurrence of engaging in sexual activities that may lead to pregnancies. Another study shows how single mothers become more lenient to the younger children after the oldest has become a teen mother.4 Teenagers with sisters who had a child during their adolescence are 53% more susceptible to also becoming a teenage mother.2 Single mothers spend more time caring for the baby and offer less parenting effort towards the younger children, which then increases the risk that the younger child becomes a teen mother. The cycle begins with the fact that parents are too lenient with their children and fail to educate them on the importance of schooling, which is related to the prioritization on work forced by the economic burden they face on a daily basis.
Adolescent motherhood shows an increase in medical risk compared to older mothers. Babies born to teenage mothers suffer from...