There is a continuing nationwide concern regarding the high prevalence of adolescent/teenage/ school-aged pregnancy. The terms adolescent pregnancy, teenage pregnancy, and school-aged pregnancy all have been applied to pregnancy at an age and/or developmental stage that is considered premature or inappropriate, especially with respect to outcome. Whereas fertility is determined by biologic factors, the impact of pregnancy and its consequences have biologic, psychosocial, and environmental determinants. The term "adolescence" is applied to the period of psychosocial development from childhood to adulthood that corresponds to chronologic ages 10 or 12 to 21 years. Adolescent pregnancy has different implications for the 18- or 19-year-old high school graduate who is married or planning marriage than for the 13-or 14-year-old middle school student who may be beginning the process of adolescence. Although recognizing this broad spectrum, the Committee on Adolescence has chosen the term "adolescent pregnancy" for this and related statements. Our primary concern is the individual in early to middle adolescence (younger than the age of 18 years) who is biologically and/or psychosocially immature, and for whom pregnancy is, often unplanned, if not unwanted.
Explanations for the high prevalence have ranged from inadequate sex education to sexual promiscuity. In this statement current research data will be reviewed and relevant information will be provided so that pediatricians and others responsible for the health care of adolescents can appreciate the implications and consequences of adolescent sexual activity and early childbearing.
The current problems resulting from teenage pregnancy cannot be appreciated fully without understanding adolescent sexual behavior and the secular changes that have taken place.
- Copyright © 1989 by the American Academy of Pediatrics