The prevalence of teenage pregnancy worldwide has become a cause of major concern in recent years. It is viewed as an urgent crisis as the number of teenage girls bearing children outside of marriage increases. It affects the community and society at large. Some of the risk factors that lead to teen pregnancy are participation in unsafe sexual activities, poor performance and insufficient attendance of school, substance abuse, low family income, under use of contraception, deprivation and single parent families. There are several at risk circumstances related to teen pregnancy. These include higher dropout rates and less schooling, health and medical complications, poverty encircled life and decreased career aspirations.
Child bearing is the leading cause of teen girls dropping out of high school. Less than 50% of teen mothers complete their high school education and less than 2% attend college. Some young mothers have a second child within two years which further hinders them from attaining further education; this causes them to become economically dependent; the mother and her child face a lifetime of economic, educational and health challenges. Children born to teen mothers do worse in school as compared to those born to older mothers. Many of them repeat a grade, are placed in special education classes, experience milder education problems and have a lower probability of graduating from high school. These educational problems and disabilities can be attributed to the single marital status, high poverty prevalence and low level of education of the teenage mothers.
The negative effects teen pregnancy has on perinatal results and long term morbidity has resulted in it becoming a public health issue. Teen mothers have poor prenatal care since they fail to attend their prenatal appointments. They are at a higher risk of experiencing pregnancy complications, early marital breakdown if they are married and post natal depression. In addition, they tend to give birth to premature babies, low weight babies and babies who die in their first year of life. Furthermore, their infants experience higher infant mortality and morbidity rates as compared to those born to older mothers.
Teen pregnancy has several adverse effects and thus measures should be taken to reduce its prevalence. In addition, teen mothers should be provided with and encouraged to pursue opportunities to further their education and careers. This will go a long way in curbing the risk factors associated with teen pregnancy and in allowing them, and their children lead wholesome, productive lives.