Teen Pregnancy: Risks and Prevention

Given the fact that teen pregnancy is a reality around the world, it's worth being aware of the health risks that are associated with it. How does it affect the mother and the fetus?
Teen Pregnancy: Risks and Prevention

Written by Naí Botello

Last update: 27 December, 2022

There are many dangers of teen pregnancy. Adolescents can experience premature births, miscarriages, infections, and vaginal or cervical tears during delivery.

Teen pregnancies are classified as high-risk pregnancies. In addition, they need special medical attention. This way, they can make sure that the mother and baby are healthy.

It’s true that good sexual education can prevent teen pregnancy to a high degree. However, when it’s too late and the young woman is pregnant, getting the right medical care can make a big difference.

Dangers of teen pregnancy

Teen pregnancies are defined as those where the mother is between 12 and 18 years old. In some extreme cases, girls get pregnant at even 10 or 11 years old.

Pregnancies within this age range are considered high risk. They can have negative health consequences for the woman and baby. In fact, there is a long list of complications that covers physical and mental problems.

Physical complications regarding teen pregnancy

Physical problems can vary depending on the age of the young pregnant woman. However, in almost all cases, they experience:

  • Hemorrhages
  • Miscarriages
  • Preterm births. In almost all cases, deliveries are before the 36th or 37th week of pregnancy.
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Preeclampsia 
  • Anemia
  • Vaginal or cervical tears during childbirth
  • Often, they need a cesarean section instead of vaginal birth
  • Uterine problems after birth. It might take a while to relax or return to normal.
Teen Pregnancy: Risks and Prevention

Psychological problems in teen moms after childbirth

Teen pregnancies don’t only cause physical problems for the mother. In fact, they can also cause mental and social problems to the young women. After the baby is born, many women report:

  • Rejection towards the baby. Since they’re young and don’t understand the responsibilities of motherhood, many teen moms feel resentment and frustration. In addition, they may feel guilt or shame.
  • Feeling rejected socially. They also lose the natural interaction with people their age. After teen pregnancy, they have to fulfill their maternal tasks.
  • Feeling continually judged by their parents or relatives. They feel that they carry a burden for their bad actions or mistakes.

“When it’s too late and the young woman is pregnant, getting the right medical care can make a big difference.”

Dangers of teen pregnancy for the fetus

Children whose mothers were teen moms may also experience health problems. This is because of the high-risk pregnancy.

For mothers under age 15, there is a risk that the child will have deformities, developmental disorders and other general health problems. In 50% of cases, babies can die in the first few weeks of life.

Since the mother’s uterus isn’t mature, most children of teen moms weigh less than what’s recommended. In addition, they may suffer from malnutrition and anemia.

During childhood and adolescence, kids whose mothers had them between ages 12 and 16 have the lowest school success rate. They generally do worse in school compared to their peers.

Teen Pregnancy: Risks and Prevention

Preventing teen pregnancy

Sex education should be a priority in every home, today more than ever. Most schools and institutions have campaigns so kids know the consequences of starting their sexual life at a young age. In addition, it teaches about the importance of contraception.

In some Latin American countries such as Argentina, abortion is a huge debate. Meanwhile, in Mexico, reversible and long-term contraceptives are provided free of change to women who request them.

Finally, it’s important to emphasize that young women dealing with teen pregnancy need a pre-natal checkup. They also need the support and help of relatives. That way, they can guarantee that the mother and baby are healthy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.