If you’re a teenager or have a teenage daughter, you may be coming to grips with an unexpected statistic: According to Kids Health, over one million teenage girls give birth each year in the United States. While most teens carry their babies to full term without problems, the Mayo Clinic website notes certain health risks that are more prevalent in teen pregnancy and even higher for teens under the age of 15. If you have or are a teen who thinks she might be pregnant, she must receive prenatal care as soon as possible to have a healthy pregnancy and baby.
Hypertension is the medical term for high blood pressure, and can occur without previous history when you’re pregnant. Known as “the silent killer” because it frequently presents without symptoms, high blood pressure can cause a diminished amount of blood flowing to the placenta as well as placenta abruption, a condition in which the placenta separates from the uterus too soon. When this happens, the mother will experience heavy bleeding and the baby will not be able to receive the nutrients and oxygen it needs to grow to term. Other side effects of high blood pressure include premature delivery, as well as a condition known as preeclampsia, in which the hypertension occurs after week 20 of a pregnancy and is characterized by high amounts of protein in the teen’s urine.
Anemia occurs when your body does not have enough red blood cells to give your tissue as much oxygen as it needs, and is more common in teen pregnancies than in adult pregnancies. There are several things that can cause anemia; the most common are deficiencies in iron, folate or vitamin B12. Although many anemic people feel fatigued and have headaches, pale skin, shortness of breath, cold hands and feet and cognitive problems, others may have no symptoms at all.
Premature Labor and Birth
Premature labor and birth occur when the mother begins the labor process before week 37 of her pregnancy and the younger the mother, the higher the risk of occurrence. Often, preterm labor can be stopped by proper medical care. Preterm babies often have low birth weight, breathing problems and organs that have not developed enough to function properly. In addition, premies have a higher risk of developing dangerous infections, behavior problems, learning disabilities and developmental disabilities as they grow.