“It is hard to raise a child, when you are still a child.” We have all heard this being said by many older persons around us. Some of them say this as a means to scare some adolescent females from getting pregnant. Without going any further, let me first acknowledge the key term within the topic of discussion – teen pregnancy. According to the American Pregnancy Association, a teenage pregnancy is pregnancy that occurs for a woman under the age of twenty (American Pregnancy Association – Promoting Pregnancy Wellness, 2017). Like anything else, teenage pregnancy comes with many risk factors. Being a child of a teenage mother entails numerous amounts of risks. There are matters of health problems for the mother and the child, behavioural, educational and cognitive developmental issues for the child and also socioeconomic issues for the child, as they get older.
Often times when teenager become pregnant, they do not give enough attention to prenatal nutrition. This could be because the mother’s socioeconomical background is low. She could be from a poor family and unable to afford adequate prenatal nutrition. Another factor that plays apart of this is the lack of education. Some of these teenaged mothers may simply not be aware that they should be having prenatal care. Lack of such has an effect on the unborn child. Many of the children born to teenagers are of low birth weight and/or are premature. There is also a high rate of infant mortality rate. Many of these pregnancies have a high probability of the child being born blind, deaf, with respiratory issues, mental retardation and other birth defects.
As with the child, the mothers often times encounter health issues when giving birth at an early age. Some teenaged mothers have high blood pressure during their pregnancy, often referred to as pregnancy induced hypertension. As such they would have to resort to taking medication to control this issue. However, these medications can in fact affect the unborn child’s growth. Another issue that is faced by teenaged mothers is postpartum depression – depression that starts after the baby is delivered. As a new mom, there are many difficulties faced with getting use to having a newborn. There is lack of sleep, doing everything as a single parent, and other challenges. Imagine these new responsibilities and more being placed on a mother who is younger than twenty. A teen mother is physically and mentally, in most cases, immature. They do not know how to take care of themselves, let alone having the responsibility of another life form.
It is said that more than fifty percent of children born from teen mothers face issues of repeating a grade, not graduating high school and having lower IQs and performances on standardized tests. However not in all cases, it is believed that the amount of education a mother achieves, helps with the success of her children. Most teenaged mothers nearly never further their education. Many of them never graduated high school or received education further than that of the high school level. As such, they do not know what is ‘best’ for their child as it relates to education. Not having a diploma or its equivalent, means they are only eligible for low paying jobs. This results in the child not being awarded the best of education. Children born to teen mothers are often robbed of there full potential. A baby born to a young mother, they have more difficulty receiving cognitive, language, social and emotional skills. These are all essential for school readiness. Adolescent mothers have less knowledge on a child’s development and they misjudge their own child’s capabilities to adapt and learn. They sometimes hold their own children back, by not enrolling them in school at an appropriate age. Many of these children start school later than the usual and tend to be slower academically.
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