Teenage births have a negative impact on children's health because they are more likely to be delivered prematurely, have lower birth weights, and have a higher neonatal death rate, while mothers have higher rates of post-partum depression and are less likely to commence breastfeeding [1, 2]. Adolescents who give birth as teenagers are at greater risk for obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic conditions.
Children born into poverty are more likely to experience adverse physical and mental health outcomes than their peers who were not raised in poverty. This is true even when controlling for factors such as race or ethnicity. Poor parenting practices, lack of access to adequate health care, and limited opportunity structures for youth all contribute to increased risk for child poverty. However, not all young people who experience poverty go on to become parents themselves. Some transition out of poverty through employment while others choose to remain living in poverty until older ages. Either way, childhood poverty has lasting effects that may not be visible at first glance.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that adolescents engage in some form of preventive health care throughout puberty. Studies have shown that women who receive prenatal care early in their pregnancies are better able to prevent premature delivery and low birth weight babies than those who come for care only after they feel sick with symptoms. Prenatal care includes checking women's blood pressure, urine, and hearing tests, as well as assessing their growth curve.
Teenage moms are more likely to have an unfavorable pregnancy result, and infants born to extremely young mothers are more likely to be unwell or die. Teenage moms may suffer; their life opportunities will be limited, exacerbating poverty and establishing a difficult-to-break cycle.
The connection between teenage pregnancy and poverty is multifaceted. First, there is the direct physical impact of giving birth as a teenager. The very young age at which teenagers give birth increases their chances of having an unhealthy pregnancy or delivery. This can lead to infertility, chronic medical problems, or death. These outcomes will then have a negative effect on future employment opportunities and income growth.
Secondly, there is the indirect influence of teenage pregnancy. When women lack other options, they may put themselves in dangerous situations to raise money for food, transport, and hospital bills. This can lead to injury or illness and therefore reduce their ability to work. If they remain in school, they may be forced to drop out due to economic hardship.
Finally, there is the psychological effect of teenage pregnancy. Feeling like you have failed as a mother or wife can cause women to feel like they cannot meet the needs of their family. This may lead them to turn to drugs or alcohol to cope with the stress of being in a relationship with someone who doesn't appreciate them.
Less favorable socioeconomic situations, such as a teen's family's poor education and income levels, may lead to high adolescent birth rates. Teenagers in child welfare systems are more likely than other groups to have a teen pregnancy or give birth. They are also more likely to continue having children at a young age.
The number of adolescents who become pregnant is increasing. The majority of these pregnancies are unplanned; many adolescents are not using contraception. Because adolescents' reproductive organs aren't fully developed, they are at risk for medical complications during childbirth. Children born to mothers under the age of 18 are more likely to be premature or low birth weight. Both maternal and infant mortality increase if the mother is under the age of 17.
Teens who are sexually active are more likely to be exposed to HIV/AIDS. Although adults too are affected by this virus, it is primarily adolescents who are becoming infected with HIV. The main reason behind this trend is that adults are aware of the risks involved with sexual activity and are taking measures to prevent infection. Adolescents on the other hand are not taking these risks seriously which makes them vulnerable to HIV/AIDS.
The number of adolescents giving birth is also increasing. More teens are choosing cosmetic surgery over childbirth. Teens are going into debt to pay doctors to cut off their breasts for implants or remove fat from other areas of their bodies.
Children born to teen moms face a variety of challenges as well. They are more likely to, for example, have a higher risk of low birth weight and infant mortality; receive less emotional support and cognitive stimulation; and have less abilities and be less prepared to learn when they attend kindergarten. These factors together serve to create a lower income family.
Teen mothers are also more likely to experience abuse or neglect during their childhood home environment, which can cause similar negative effects on their children. For example, one study found that teenagers who were exposed to violence in the home as children were more likely than others to commit violent acts themselves. This is because people who have experienced violence themselves are more likely to re-enact these experiences by physically attacking those around them. Children who have seen this type of behavior aren't able to understand why it's not okay to hit someone else, so they carry this value system with them into adulthood.
Finally, children born to teenage parents are more likely to follow in their parent's footsteps and become young parents themselves. This cycle of poverty tends to continue throughout generations in families where the ability to escape it requires either moving away from friends and family or earning a lot of money.
The overall effect of these challenges is that children born to teen mothers tend to have poorer outcomes than others their age. They are more likely to suffer from addiction, incarceration, unemployment, and/or involvement with the social services system.
Teenage moms had greater rates of depression in addition to higher rates of postpartum depression. They also have greater rates of suicidal thoughts than their non-mother counterparts. Teen moms are more likely than other adolescent women to suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD is an anxiety disorder that can develop after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event, such as abuse, violence, natural disaster, or military combat.
Given these risks, it is no surprise that teenage mothers are less likely to be employed and more likely to rely on welfare benefits than other young adults. In fact, one study found that as many as half of all teenage mothers receive some form of public assistance.
In addition to these financial concerns, there are physical challenges associated with being a teenage mother. For example, babies born to teen mothers are more likely to be underweight and face other health problems. These children are also more likely to experience mental illness later in life.
Finally, there are social challenges related to being a teenage mother. For example, teenagers who give birth are often forced to leave school and move out of their parents' homes. This can lead to isolation, unemployment, drug use, and involvement with the criminal justice system.
Overall, becoming a teenage mother has serious consequences for both the individual woman and her child.