Usually a girl becomes fertile after the menarche, which takes place when a girl is at the age of 12 to 13 years old. In some cases ovulation may precede the first menstruation.
The adolescent pregnancy is identified as the pregnancy which ends before the 20th birthday of a woman. Therefore, if the child is born when a mother is older than 20 the pregnancy is not consider adolescent.
It was estimated that every year worldwide approximately 16 million girls aged 15-19 years and 1 million girls under 15 deliver babies, comprising 11% of all birth.
According to the WHO, rates of adolescent childbirth are 49 per 1000 girls. About 95% of teen pregnancies happen in low- and middle-income countries and occur among poor and uneducated people.
- Lack of sexual education – girls may not aware of their fertility, ovulation; birth control methods and their use;
- Expensive contraception or its unavailability, unprotected intercourse – in poor communities teenagers can’t afford contraception or the contraception is unavailable at all;
- Sexual abuse and dating abuse – a lot of girls experience sexual abuse and are unable to protect themselves, dating abuse is also typical;
- Early marriage due to customs – in some countries early marriages are common and therefore early pregnancies;
- Media influence – sexuality in the media provokes an early onset of sex life;
- Drug or alcohol abuse – teens may have unsafe sexual intercourse when they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol as they can’t control their behavior;
The signs of pregnancy
- Light bleeding/spotting;
- Missed period;
- Fatigue and tiredness;
- Fainting and dizziness;
- Sensitivity to odors;
- Changes in tastes, food cravings;
- Nausea and vomiting of pregnancy/morning sickness;
- Breast tenderness and swelling;
- Motion sickness;
- Changes of the areola color;
Pregnancy and childbirth complications are more common in adolescents and they are the death second cause of girls aged 15 to 19 years old.
- Birth defects – young mothers-to-be may not know that they are carrying a baby, so they may continue to consume alcohol or even dugs that will affect the baby development. On the other hand, malnutrition is common in poor and rural communities that will have an impact on the fetus as well;
- Gestational hypertension and preeclampsia, anemia are more typical in adolescent pregnancies;
- Premature birth and low-birth-weight baby due to malnutrition and the inability of the mother’s body to carry a child;
- Sexually transmitted diseases – adolescents are at higher risk of STD infection. These diseases affect also the baby casing congenital abnormalities;
- Postpartum depression – it is suggested that adolescent mothers are more likely to develop postpartum depression (depression after the labor) than mothers at the age of 20-29;
- Social stigma – young mothers face difficulties in the society, may be humiliated;
- Economic issues – a teen who gave birth usually is not able to continue her education, if she decides to raise a child she may not find a good and well-paid job;
- Illegal abortions – abortions are allowed only until the 12th week of pregnancy or later when there are certain medical indications. However, abortions may be too expensive for adolescents. As a result, pregnant teens may ask for illegal abortion;
- Sex education for teenagers in schools and communities;
- Provide teens with free contraception;
- Public policy regulations;