What Are the Long-Term Effects of Teenage Pregnancy?

Written by sarah dewitt ince
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What Are the Long-Term Effects of Teenage Pregnancy?
Pregnant teen pondering the future. (pregnancy expectation image by forca from Fotolia.com)

Teen pregnancy is a scary reality that many teenagers are faced with every year. Getting pregnant during the teen years has long-term social, medical and economic consequences for both the teenagers and the babies. A pregnant teen is often scared and confused because she is still coming into adulthood and does not have the maturity to fully understand the huge responsibility that awaits her. She is likely to feel a huge weight of distress on her shoulders.

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Mental Health Issues

Teen mothers are at risk for mental illness. Mental health issues can lead to poor choices and substance abuse. Teen mothers often feel intense pressures and stress from parenthood, resulting in drug abuse. These problems can arise from social isolation. Teen mothers are often left to raise a child alone. The lack of support can cause her to feel lonely and scared, just making the problem worse. She may suffer from depression and have feelings of regret.

Financial Problems

Teenagers who have babies will often suffer with financial problems for a very long time. Many teens find that they are fighting an uphill battle as they try to raise a child along with finishing school and holding down a job. The University of Illinois Medical Center says teens may become dependent on the government to survive. According to Women's Health, young mothers who are financially dependent often become vulnerable to domestic violence.

This can also depend on the support of the family structure. Teens who have parents who are willing to help raise the child so their teen can finish school have an advantage. However, not all parents have the time or resources to help because they are also working to support their families.

Child Behavioral Problems

According to the University of Illinois, one effect of teen pregnancy is child behavioural problems. Some teen mothers struggle to raise their children because they lack parenting skills and the maturity to discipline and teach them properly. Teen parents may feel very alone and depressed by the overwhelming burden of caring for a child.

Behavioural problems can also result from an abusive home environment, according to the University of Illinois Medical Center. Teen mothers and fathers may not be able to cope with frustration and this results in a cycle of abuse. Children who are exposed to violence may act out more often. In addition, many teen mothers do not take proper care of themselves during pregnancy. They may not receive adequate prenatal care or nutrition during their pregnancies, which can affect the child's brain development. A healthy diet during pregnancy is vital for a developing baby.

Medical Problems

According to the March of Dimes, both teen mothers and their babies are at an increased risk of suffering from medical problems. Teen mothers are more likely to give birth to premature babies. Babies that are born early often suffer from respiratory problems and, in some cases, mental retardation and other long-term disabilities or death. Low birth weight babies can also suffer from bleeding in the brain and vision loss. Teen moms are also more likely to suffer with pregnancy-induced hypertension and diabetes.

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