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A time for new thinking about teenage pregnancy.

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  • Research Article
  • Communication
  • Education
  • Medicine


No. 31 May 2012 When Children Have Children Babies born in the U.S. to teenage mothers are at risk for long-term problems in many major areas of life, including school failure, poverty, and physical or mental illness. The teenage mothers themselves are also at risk for these problems. Teenage pregnancy is usually a crisis for the pregnant girl and her family. Common reactions include anger, guilt, and denial. If the father is young and involved, similar reactions can occur in his family. Adolescents who become pregnant may not seek proper medical care during their pregnancy, leading to an increased risk for medical complications. Pregnant teenagers require special understanding, medical care, and education--particularly about nutrition, infections, substance abuse, and complications of pregnancy. They also need to learn that using tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs, can damage the developing fetus. All pregnant teenagers should have medical care beginning early in their pregnancy. Pregnant teens can have many different emotional reactions: • some may not want their babies • others may view the creation of a child as an achievement and not recognize the serious responsibilities • some may keep a child to please another family member • some may want a baby to have someone to love, but not understand the amount of care the baby needs • depression is also common among pregnant teens • many do not realize that their adorable baby can also be demanding and sometimes irritating • some become overwhelmed by guilt, anxiety, and fears about the future Babies born to teenagers are at risk for neglect and abuse because their young mothers are uncertain about their roles and may be frustrated by the constant demands of caretaking. Parents of teenagers can help prevent teenage pregnancy through open communication and by providing guidance to their children about sexuality, contraception, and the risks and responsibilities of s

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