Adolescent parents and their children represent populations at increased risk for medical, psychologic, and social problems. The scope of the problem of adolescent pregnancy and the attendant obstetric/ perinatal complications are summarized in the American Academy of Pediatrics' paper, "Adolescent Pregnancy." Despite a decline in the rate of births to adolescents, the absolute number remains relatively constant because of the increase in adolescent girls. The number of children living with teenage mothers, therefore, remains significant. The health, psychosocial, and educational risks for children of young parents and the role of the pediatrician in prevention or early intervention to reduce those risks will be emphasized here.
MEDICAL RISKS TO INFANT AND MOTHER
Despite dramatic declines in maternal mortality and neonatal death rates in the past 40 years, related at least in part to improved availability and accessibility of obstetric and perinatal care, disproportionately high rates of both maternal and neonatal deaths continue to occur in young adolescents. This is especially true among nonwhite adolescents. Infant mortality coded with reference to the age of the mother varies among different localities, but some reports indicate that babies born to mothers aged 19 years and younger have a death rate higher than that of infants born to older women. Improvements in perinatal care have resulted in decreases in medical complications among babies born to teenage mothers, but mothers aged 14 years and younger continue to experience unacceptably high rates of adverse outcomes.
The most significant medical risks for infants of teenage mothers are likely related to the parental care those infants receive after the first year of life.
- Copyright © 1989 by the American Academy of Pediatrics