Talking To Teens About Unintended Pregnancy
What’s It All About?
Unintended pregnancy is an important issue for people of all ages, but there are special risks and concerns for adolescents. Teen pregnancy poses a serious health risk for both the mother and the baby. The infants of teen mothers are more likely to be underweight or die in the first month of life than the infants of older mothers. In addition to the medical issues, teen parents are more likely to live in poverty than their peers. Teens who become pregnant are generally not married and usually did not intend to be parents at such a young age. More than 13,000 15- to 19-yearold girls in Washington become pregnant each year. Because many teens have faced pregnancy scares or been pregnant themselves, unintended pregnancy is an important adolescent issue.
Why Does It Matter?
Most teens don’t want to be teen parents. In Washington, about 70% of pregnancies in women under 20 years of age were unintended.
Compared to their peers who have children later, teen parents are:
- More likely to have low birth-weight children who will suffer from poor health and development.
- More likely to have low family incomes, live in poverty and receive public assistance.
- At increased risk of substance abuse, intimate partner violence, maternal depression and divorce or separation.
What Are The Details?
- While the overall teen pregnancy rate for the state of Washington is below the national average and has been declining since 1989, rates in several counties still remain above the national average.
- 35% of young women in the U.S. become pregnant before they reach the age of 20.
- About 1-in-5 infants born to unmarried minors are fathered by men 5 or more years older than the mother.
- The younger women are when they first have intercourse, the more likely it is to be unwanted or forced.
- 1 out of 4 teenage mothers in the U.S. have a second child within 2 years of their first.
- Nationally, the birth rate for teens, 15 to 19 years old, dropped by about 22% between 1991 and 2000. Some possible reasons for the decline may be a decrease in sexual activity and an increase in birth control use among teens.
- The U.S. teen pregnancy rate is one of the highest among industrialized nations.
- In the U.S, approximately 1 out of 7 sexually experienced 14-year-old girls reports having been pregnant.
Reprinted with the permission of the Department of Social and Health Services.
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