Your daughter is pregnant. Now what? (Or your son got a girl pregnant. Again, now what?) You had the sex talk with them, they allegedly paid attention during sex ed class, and still, this happened. You may be feeling a lot of things right now, but what’s done is done — and you need information for the next step of this journey. Your child is going to be scared right now, so here are some teenage pregnancy risks that you should know about in order to get ahead of the fear and make smart decisions.
1. Premature Birth
Teen pregnancies carry a greater risk of premature birth, which often goes hand in hand with low birthweight. This type of birthing experience can create serious medical complications for the baby, which may end up requiring days or even weeks in a specialized ICU (intensive care unit). Premature birth can cause difficulties with learning and brain function later in life, as well as respiratory problems such as asthma.
NEXT UP: The Emotional Challenges
2. Emotional C
A pregnant mom-to-be may find herself feeling isolated from friends and even family, who may look down on her choices with judgment. Health Line notes that school performance could decline, and some teens may even experience depression or other serious mental health conditions.
3. Nutritional Concerns
Teens need extra encouragement to consume enough calories from the right foods to maintain their health and the health of their
4. Anemia and Other Blood-related Concerns
Pregnant teens can experience a deficiency of iron and other crucial nutrients. Pregnancy can also exacerbate existing genetic disorders, such as sickle cell anemia. Frequent tiredness, dizziness, and shortness of breath are all signs of anemia, a condition that can also be transferred to the baby. Teen pregnancies can also result in higher blood pressure, which in turn can contribute to premature birth.
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5. STIs / STDs
Don’t think that just because your teenager is pregnant (or has a pregnant girlfriend) that they couldn’t have a sexually transmitted infection or a sexually-transmitted disease. (EDITOR’S NOTE: These terms are often used interchangeably, but they’re not the same thing. Having an STI means that an individual has an infection, but that it has not yet developed into a disease.)
The STI or STD could have happened before pregnancy, or if one of the couple is still hooking up during pregnancy. An STD or STI can affect the mother and her fetus, creating an extra component of risk.
6. Infant Mortality
Going beyond the pregnancy itself, young women who are just transitioning out of childhood will need guidance about how to take care of a baby. They may not know the safest way to put their baby to sleep (a hotly debated topic), how to provide their baby with adequate nutrition, or how (and when) to arrange postnatal care. Emotional challenges and social isolation can also increase the unfortunate likelihood of neonatal death.
AND NOW, THE GREATEST RISK — Parents