Mind and Body: Teenage pregnancy remains prevalent in US

Published 10:29 am Thursday, May 2, 2019

Although pregnancy is a period of joy and excitement, the issue with teen pregnancy is that it is sometimes unintended and, in most cases, unwanted.

Unintended pregnancy is a pregnancy reported to have been either unwanted (the pregnancy occurred when no children or no more children were desired) or mistimed (the pregnancy occurred earlier than desired).

Many health concerns come with an unplanned pregnancy.

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When the pregnancy is unplanned the mother may not be aware she is pregnant right away, and that will cause a delay in prenatal care. Delaying prenatal care can put the mother’s and the baby’s health at risk.

Moreover, many students report using alcohol and drugs when having sex.

If a teenaged girl is not aware of her pregnancy and continues life as usual, the damage can be irreparable for the unborn baby.

There are also many socio-economic hardships that come with being a teen mom or dad. Research shows pregnancy among school-age youth can reduce completed levels of education, employment opportunities and marital stability, and can increase welfare dependency.

Being pregnant can cause a student to miss school for many reasons, such as doctor appointments or morning sickness. Those reasons alone can increase the chances of a student dropping out of school.

It is hard enough to be a teenager; being a teen parent can be even more stressful.

Aside from the fact babies can increase parents’ need to for additional income, having unprotected sex is also an issue because it puts teenagers at risk for human immunodeficiency virus and sexually transmitted diseases, also known as sexually transmitted infection.

Many adolescents believe HIV, STDs/STIs and unwanted pregnancy are health concerns adults need to worry about, but the undeniable truth is everyone who participates in sexual activity without protection is at high risk, and people need to take the consequences of such behaviors seriously.

According to statistics, nearly half of U.S. high school students have had sexual intercourse. The average age of first intercourse for boys and girls is 15.

Although teenagers tend to have sexual relationships with only one partner during any given time, their number of sexual partners adds up over time. Almost 25 percent report having sex with four or more partners by 12th grade.

It is essential to reduce unwanted pregnancy and all the complications that come with unprotected sex.

The good news is unwanted and unintended pregnancies are preventable.

It will take a joint effort of the family and the community to reduce the prevalence of teen pregnancy.

Parents and caregivers need to educate themselves and their teens about pregnancy myths and facts, and encourage their teens to delay sexual activity.

Abstinence is 100 percent effective against STDs and unwanted pregnancy.

Be the trusted adult teens can talk to when in doubt.

Remind teens about the consequences of using drug and alcohol and how they impact their attitude toward unprotected sex.

Talk to your teens about their birth control options, and explain to them why they should use them correctly and consistently.

The community can also help decrease teen pregnancy through health education at school. The Clark County Health Department offers Reducing the Risk at George Rogers Clark High School and partners with Dr. Betsy Neale to provide Beyond the Birds and the Bees to Elementary Schools in Clark County.

A community that offers different contraception methods at low or no cost can help reduce the incidence of teen pregnancy.

Doctors, nurses and other health care providers can encourage teens not to have sex and offer a broad range of birth control to teens in the community.

Last but not least, no matter what the situation, keep a positive outlook.

Clark County Health Department provides programs for the entire family, including WIC, HANDS, family planning, well child care/immunizations, Freedom from Smoking and home health care. For more information, call 744-4482 or go to www.clarkhealthdept.org.