How Can Pregnancy Affect The Health of Teenage Girls
Teenage mums-to-be are usually considered at higher risk of having a premature labour and/or an underweight baby.
Good nutrition and antenatal care is vitally important throughout the pregnancy weeks as the teenager herself will still be growing and will need nurturing. But often teenagers are too scared to tell their parents when they suspect they maybe pregnant and this can result in months of neglect for the mum and the unborn baby.
A teenage mum in reality is little more than a baby having a baby and needs special care.
Here are some of the risks for teenage pregnancies:
Inadequate pre-natal care
Many teenage girls do not get sufficient pre-natal care in the early weeks of their first trimester.
Early supervision by a GP is vital to screen for medical problems in both mother and baby and to monitor the growth of the baby, and allows doctors to deal quickly with any possible complications.
Many teenagers have an unhealthy diet eating too many takeaways and too many high salt, high sugar foods. They, more than any other pregnancy age group, would benefit from taking prenatal vitamins with folic acid help prevent certain birth defects.
Ideally these should be taken by women before getting pregnant and then throughout their pregnancy weeks, but as the vast majority of teenage pregnancies are unplanned this seldom happens.
Anaemia (low iron levels in the blood) is also more common among teenage mums.
High blood pressure
Teenage mums-to-be have a higher risk of suffering from high blood pressure (hypertension) and pre-eclampsia. These conditions can result in a premature birth (or early induction for the sake of the mother) which then means the baby has a higher risk of respiratory, digestive, vision, cognitive, and other health problems.
STDs (Sexually Transmitted Diseases)
STDs such as Chlamydia and HIV are more common among teenagers who have active sex lives.
These infections can cross the placenta infecting the baby during pregnancy.
Other STDs like gonorrhoea, Chlamydia, hepatitis B, and genital herpes can be passed on to the baby during a vaginal delivery.
Babies can suffer a range of conditions by becoming infected with an STD including conjunctivitis, neurologic damage, hepatitis, meningitis, blindness, deafness, chronic liver disease, and cirrhosis.
Some teenagers go through much of their pregnancy too scared to tell anyone about their condition and stressed and worried about how they will cope with the labour and motherhood.
Without parental, adult or medical support pregnant teenagers are more likely to neglect themselves, lack sufficient nutrients and be unfit through a lack of exercise, or insufficient rest.
All of these can lead to teenagers being at higher risk of developing the baby blues or full blown post natal depression.
Debra Aspinall is an experienced journalist and the editor and leading writer for the Emma’s Diary website, one of the UKs foremost pregnancy and baby websites. Debra writes on pregnancy related topics such as pregnancy weeks, having a baby, getting pregnant and etc. She also writes on women’s health and beauty issues and contributes travel articles to glossy magazines in London and the Home Counties.