538 babies on average are born every day to Filipina teenage mothers, according to the Philippine Statistical Authority of 2017. Babies born to adolescent mothers totaled 196,478, while babies sired by adolescent fathers were at 52,342.
Every year, there are also 3.9 million girls, ages 15 to 19 years worldwide who undergo unsafe abortions. These can lead to the death of the mother, especially without proper medical intervention.
Effects of teenage pregnancy
An adolescent’s body is not yet fully mature to bear a child, so pregnancy risks are slightly higher than that of someone becoming pregnant in their mid-20s. The mother may opt for prenatal care, but sometimes, her health is not strong enough to carry the baby to full term.
Certain risks involved in adolescent reproductive health during pregnancy, labor, and delivery include:
- Premature birth, which could lead to low birth weight of the baby
- Pregnancy-induced hypertension
- Higher risk of infant death
- Higher risk of cephalopelvic disproportion
Aside from the physical toll that a teenage pregnancy can inflict, their mental health is also strongly affected. Since most adolescents are ill prepared for the complexity of childbirth and childrearing, relationships and finances often take a hit, which leads to more stress. Stress can affect the mother, father, and the child. Finishing school can also become challenging as newborns require undivided attention and care.
By teaching teens about adolescent reproductive health, and its associated risks and consequences, they may be empowered to make more informed choices about their sexual health and wellbeing.
The adolescent stage is a time of discovery, and it is normal and healthy for individuals to explore their sexuality safely. As with any form of discovery, there are advantages and disadvantages, rewards and risks. It is important for adolescents to be educated in the changes in their bodies, as well as sexual wellness and safe sex practices.
If an adolescent engages in sexual activities, and ends up becoming pregnant, their overall reproductive health may suffer. However, with the right guidance from doctors and support of the family, and proper education about adolescent reproductive health, it is possible for a teenager to safely explore sexuality, while avoiding pregnancy. Consult your OB-GYN for any concerns about adolescent reproductive health and early pregnancy.
Learn more about Sexual Wellness here.