"Preventing teen and unplanned pregnancy will help improve high school completion, contribute to increasing the number of college graduates, and make our workforce more competitive. Only 40 percent of teen mothers finish high school, and less than two percent of those girls earn a college degree by age 30." —The National Plan to Cut Teen Pregnancy
Ideally, young people will wait until they are finished with their education and established in their careers to start families. However, when pregnancy comes too early, local resources are available to help, and it is crucial that pregnant teens, already a vulnerable population, take full advantage of these services which are listed in the sidebar accompanying this piece.
According to Dr. Brenda Hines of New Beginnings OB/GYN in Fredericksburg, "In 2012, there were 305,388 babies born to women age 15-19, which is a slight decrease from prior years, as per the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). These patients are at risk for many complications during pregnancy, so prevention of teen pregnancy is of paramount importance. Teen mothers are more likely to be uneducated and live in poverty. Their children have an increase incidence of learning disabilities.
"These women have an increased risk for medical and social complications during pregnancy, including preterm labor, pregnancy induced hypertension, substance abuse and anemia. Stillbirths and neonatal deaths are 50 percent higher in this population. These problems are exacerbated due to the late onset of prenatal care generally seen in this population. American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends early intervention. Girls age 11-15 should begin regular visits with a gynecologist and continue throughout their adolescent years. Abstinence is encouraged and contraception should be implemented as needed."
Parents play a vital role in helping their teen to make good decisions about sex. According to the CDC, research shows those teens that talk with their parents about sex, relationships, birth control and pregnancy:
• Begin to have sex at later age
• Use condoms and birth control more often if they do have sex
• Have better communication with romantic partners
• Have sex less often
The best idea for teens is to avoid pregnancy, but when a baby is on the way the young mother (and father) need medical care, emotional support, education and any other help their community and family can provide.
SOME AREA RESOURCES FOR EXPECTANT TEEN PARENTS
(Fredericksburg Parent and Family does not imply endorsement of these organizations or their missions by providing this listing)
Bethany Christian Services: http://www.bethany.org/fredericksburg
Birthright International: http://birthright.org/en/our-services
Fredericksburg Pregnancy Center: http://www.fredericksburgchoices.com/
Healthy Families Rappahannock: http://www.healthyfamiliesrappahannock.org/contact/
Planned Parenthood: http://www.plannedparenthood.org/health-center/all/all/22401
Rappahannock Area Community Services Board Program for Teen Parents: http://www.racsb.state.va.us/ptp.htm or contact: Joan Gillis, 540-374-3337 Ext 5