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National Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month

Approximately 16 million girls aged 15 to 19 years and 2.5 million girls under 16 years give birth each year in developing regions (UNFPA, 2015; Neal; Matthews; Frost et al. 2016-2030) Complications during pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death for 15 to 19-year-old girls globally (WHO: 2016).

Every year, some 3.9 million girls aged 15 to 19 years undergo unsafe abortions (Darroch; Woog; Bankole & Ashford Guttmacher Institute; 2016). Adolescent mothers (ages 10 to 19 years) face higher risks of eclampsia, puerperal endometritis, and systemic infections than women aged 20 to 24 years.

For girls aged 15–19, risks are associated more with socio-economic factors than with the biological effects of age. Risks of low birth weight, premature labour, anaemia, and pre-eclampsia are connected to biological age, being observed in teen births. (Loto; Ezechi; Kalu; et al. (2004). “Poor obstetric performance of teenagers: Is it age- or quality of care-related?”. Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology. 24 (4): 395–398. (Abalkhail: 1995). “Adolescent pregnancy: Are there biological barriers for pregnancy outcomes?” The Journal of the Egyptian Public Health Association. 70 (5–6): 609–625

Teenagers who experience an upsetting or frightening event are often concerned by these strong emotions. Even though these reactions usually subside as a part of the body’s natural healing and recovery process, it is important for parents or caregivers to understand the ways in which a teenager manages distress and trauma so that they can support and help the young person.

Risk factors for mental health concerns

Teenage mothers are more likely to fall in demographic categories that make the risk of mental illness higher. These risk factors include having parents with low education levels, a history of child abuse, limited social networks, living in chaotic and unstable home environments and living in low-income communities.

In addition to these factors, teenage mothers are more likely to experience significant levels of stress that can increase the risk of mental health disorders. But some factors can reduce the likelihood that a teenage mom will have psychiatric issues. If a teen mom has a supportive relationship with her mother and/or the baby’s father, her risks are reduced.

However, teens most often use condoms and birth control pills, which are less effective at preventing pregnancy when not used consistently and correctly. Less than 1% of LARC users would become pregnant during the first year of use. Doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers can encourage teens not to have sex.