It is easy to get caught up in the emotional and financial issues that are usually glowing red hot when a teenager finds out they are pregnant. Teenage pregnancy can have several effects on the baby both short and long term. Though every situation is not the same, the larger majority of teens are not prepared for all of the responsibilities and the extra challenges in front of teen parents.
Teenage Pregnancy Effects On Baby: Health
When we find out a teenager is pregnant most people think about the health of the child. Though some teenagers are mature, many are simply not prepared for the changes taking place in their body. It was difficult for me at times as a full blown adult to eat healthily and take care of myself when pregnant. Teens do not have all the resources that many adults have.
Many teens do not seek out (or do not have the resources) to have all the medical care they need. Teens often need more education when it comes to nutrition, prenatal care and pregnancy complications than they receive. Teens need proper nutrition even more than the average mom. Their bodies are still growing also, so nutrition needs to support both their own and the babies growth.
According to the National Institute of Health, teenage pregnancy can have a major effect on the baby in the short term, including risks for:
- Toxemia (also known as pre-eclampsia)
- High blood pressure
- Placenta Previa (Placenta blocks the cervix)
- Premature birth of the baby
Teenage Pregnancy Effects On Baby: Newborns
While every new mother is exhausted from the demands of a new baby, babies of teens are at particular risk to not receive proper care. Many teens are not ready to handle both the very exhausting physical and emotional demands of a newborn. This puts babies born to teens at a higher risk for abuse or neglect according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, especially in families where the teen does not have support from family.
Caring for a baby is tough for any new mom. Teens are less likely to know the guidelines, and can unknowingly put their babies at risk for infection, illness and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. While SIDS can happen to any baby, babies from teen mothers are at a much higher risk.
Teenage Pregnancy Effects On Baby: Long Term
Many teen mothers end up dropping out of school, which hurts the amount they can earn long term. According to the Center of Disease Control, households with teen parents are more likely to be raised in single-parent families, with money being at the center of many other issues. While some teen dads try to be involved, they too are in survival mode. They often end up taking lower-paying jobs rather than finishing education which would help them longer-term.
Children born to teen moms are also less likely to be well prepared for kindergarten due to lack of resources. They consistently score lower on average on vocabulary, math and reading test according to CDC. This means from the start of their education, they are often already several steps behind other children with more preparation
What other effects does teenage pregnancy have on a baby? Are we headed in the right direction? Tell us in the comments?
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