Teen birthrates are higher in the United States than in most other developed countries, according to the March of Dimes. This is problematic because teen mothers and their babies have increased risks to their health. In addition, future opportunities in life are limited to teen parents and their children.
Teen mothers are more likely to give birth prematurely than are mothers older than age 20, according to the March of Dimes. Babies who are born prematurely have an increased risk for health problems, disabilities and even death.
Teenagers are less likely to take care of themselves properly when pregnant than are more mature women. Teens tend to smoke more than grown women do while pregnant. Smoking during pregnancy can cause a premature delivery, low birth weight or sudden infant death syndrome. Smoking can also lead to placental problems.
Teens are more likely to have sexually transmitted diseases than are older mothers. Teens can have chlamydia, which can cause eye infections and pneumonia in a baby; syphilis, which can cause blindness in a baby; and HIV, which mothers can pass on to babies.
Pregnant teens are less likely to get regular prenatal care. Sometimes, teens get no prenatal care at all, especially if they don’t have the support of their parents, according to WebMD. Prenatal care is critical, especially during the first months of pregnancy. This is when doctors can try to deal with problems before they occur. Taking prenatal vitamins, for example, can help prevent birth defects.
Only 40 percent of teenagers who get pregnant in high school graduate. By not graduating from high school, teenage girls find it difficult to get a job later in life. Their options are typically to depend on family or go on welfare. In fact, more than 75 percent of unmarried teenage mothers go on welfare within five years of the birth of their child, according to the March of Dimes. Teen mothers are likely to live in poverty. Children born to teenage mothers are likely to do poorly in school, repeat grades and drop out before graduating high school.
Abuse and Neglect
Teenagers are usually unprepared for the stress of a newborn baby. Many teens feel anger and resentment toward the baby. Teens are at higher risk for abusing and neglecting their babies, according to the Kids Health website. Teenage boys can feel tremendous pressure to get married. They may feel frightened and guilty.