Adolescent Pregnancy: A Health Challenge

Authors

1 Department of Pediatrics, Faculty of Medicine, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran.

2 Nursing Research Center, Kerman University of Medical Sciences, Kerman, Iran.

3 Department of Medical Education, Faculty of Medicine, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran.

Abstract

Every year, some 3.9 million girls aged 15 to 19 years undergo unsafe abortions (1). Approximately 16 million girls aged 15 to 19 years and 2.5 million girls under 16 years give birth each year in developing regions (2, 3). Complications during pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death for 15 to 19 year-old girls globally (4). Adolescent mothers (ages 10 to 19 years) face higher risks of eclampsia, puerperal endometritis, and systemic infections than women aged 20 to 24 years (5, 6).
The term "adolescent" is often used synonymously with "teenager". In this sense "adolescent pregnancy" means pregnancy in a woman aged 10–19 years (2, 7). Pregnant teenagers face many of the same pregnancy related issues as other women. There are additional concerns for those under the age of 15 as they are less likely to be physically developed to sustain a healthy pregnancy or to give birth (8). For girls aged 15–19, risks are associated more with socioeconomic factors than with the biological effects of age (9). Risks of low birth weight, premature labor, anemia, and pre-eclampsia are connected to biological age, being observed in teen births even after controlling for other risk factors (such as accessing prenatal care etc.) (5, 6).

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