Developmentally speaking, teenage pregnancy affects a young mother both physically and mentally. First, teenage bodies are not yet done growing. Even if a young woman has been menstruating for many years, the reproductive apparatus is not fully formed until after adolescence. While young bodies may bounce back more quickly from pregnancy, proper growth and development of both the reproductive organs and other parts of the body may be inhibited. Mentally, the young mother is not an adult yet, either. Parts of the brain that aid in decision making and logic are not fully developed until around age 19. This, coupled with the fact that a young mother has less education and real-world experience than an older woman, means that pregnant teens don't always make the best decisions for themselves and their unborn children. Furthermore, pregnancy at any age is a life-altering event. But during the teen years, pregnancy means that many typical experiences and opportunities are missed--high school graduation, college, general freedom of choice. Young mothers must grow up quickly, taking on responsibilities that they may not be fully prepared to fulfil. In this respect, development must be accelerated to meet the challenges of parenthood.
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Mental and Physical Development of the Fetus
There is no reason why a teen mom cannot give birth to a healthy baby. However, the population of children born to teenagers have increased risk of physical and mental issues. The reason for this, in part, lies in the choices of the mother during pregnancy. Young moms are not always educated about proper nutrition and other precautions that must be taken during pregnancy. Because young moms are often at a financial disadvantage, they may have to work harder and further into pregnancy than doctors recommend. They are also more likely to skimp on medical care. Stress is also a factor in healthy fetal development. Pregnant teens face many hardships: lack of social support, financial woes, anxiety about the future. All of these issues can make for one stressed-out pregnancy, which can affect fetal development and the disposition of the baby.
Long-Term Development Issues for the Child
After the baby is born, there may be other hurdles to optimal development. If during pregnancy and infancy the baby did not receive proper nutrition, attention and a calm environment, problems are sure to crop up later. These children have more health problems and tend to have more troubles in school. Children of teen moms are often raised in single-parent homes where there is a lack of supervision and attention. If mom has to work three jobs to keep the child fed and clothed, she may not have time to keep a close eye on his activities or nutrition or to help out with homework.
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