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About Adolescent Parenting
  • Adolescent pregnancy is a public health issue of alarming numbers. A high percentage of teen parents are dependent on welfare, do not complete high school or college education, struggle with life and parenting skills, are faced with great challenges to become educated and financially self-sufficient and often do not. As a result, great additional expenses exist at the local, state, and federal government levels to provide financial support to this group. This presentation will offer some facts and epidemiological data that offer insight into the incidence and prevalence of teen pregnancy rates in the United States and internationally.

  • A closer look will be taken to understand some of the complex risks and challenges, cultural and environmental influences, current trends, prevention and intervention efforts involving teen parents and their children. A behavioral theory which addresses underlying dynamics will also be considered as a possible approach to be applied in the development of programs designed to support this population and improve outcomes among teen parents and their children. Over the long-term – to provide adolescentparents with necessary tools to complete an education, obtain gainful employment, properly care for their children , and become socially responsible members of society is essentially a more cost-effective approach than providing government assistance for their entire lives.

Fast Facts about Teenage Pregnancy

  • Latest research shows there are a significant adverse health, social and economic outcomes among teen parents and their children.

  • In 2014,24.2 of every 1000 births in the US were born to teens between the ages of 15 – 19 years (CDC 2015).

  • Teen births have been declining yearly in the US, as well as, in other developed countries and are down 9 %from 2013 and down 64% from 1991 (CDC 2015).

  • Pregnant teens have a higher risk of pregnancy-induced hypertension, preeclampsia, premature birth and other pregnancy complications (CDC 2015).

  • Only 40% of teen parents finishing high school and below 2% finishing college (National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unwanted Pregnancy, 2015).

  • 1 of every 5 births of teenagers ages 15-19 is repeat birth (CDC 2015).

  • In 2013, healthcare, foster care, incarceration and lost tax revenue related to adolescent pregnancy and parenting totaled $11 billion (CDC 2015).

  • The children of teen parents are more likely to live in poverty and suffer higher rates of abuse and neglect than would occur if their mothers delayed childbearing (US Department of Health and Human Services2014).

Societal Impact

  • Lack of financial self-sufficiency, high dependency on welfare systems, higher risk pregnancies and medical costs, compromised life and parenting skills among teen parents all lead to increased costs to local, state, and federal government (CDC 2015).

  • In 2013,healthcare delivery, foster care, incarceration, and lost tax revenue associated with parenting teens totaled $11 billion (CDC 2015).

  • The high costs associated are a red flag to policy makers and can lead to decreases in funding for this population -making supports and services that support the development of self-sufficiency limited – hence perpetuating the cycle of dependency.

Teen Pregnancy Prevention

  • In recent years, Prevention efforts are considered to have played a significant role in the decreasing number of teenage pregnancies

  • In 2014 430,000 youth were served by adolescent pregnancy prevention grantees(US Department of Health and Human Services 2015).

  • Federally funded programs, such as the, National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unwanted Pregnancy, have influenced the almost 50% reduction in teenage pregnancies (National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unwanted Pregnancy, 2015).

  • Prenatal Care is essential to prevent health risks to the unborn child and teen mother – as they are at a high risk for adverse pregnancy complications

  • One health strategy to address the health concerns of pregnant women, infants and children is the WIC Program, which offers food supplements pregnant women and infants and children up to age 5 , health care referrals,screenings, nutrition education for low income pregnant women (USDA 2016).

Challenges in Healthcare and Delivery

  • 2015, 22 per 1,000 women in the US in the age range from 15-19 years old gave birth, which reflects an overall decline of 64% since the highest rate which was recorded in 1991 (National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unwanted Pregnancy, 2016).

  • The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unwanted Pregnancy, takes a multifaceted approach to it’s prevention strategies by:

    • Raising public awareness on the positive impact and value birth control and family planning can have both individually and societally, economically, academically, as well as, with health outcomes.

    • Implementing multiple initiatives and programs that address, raise awareness, and support prevention


  • Differing societal viewpoints, as well as, among healthcare providers, on the issue of teen pregnancy, along with multiple contributing factors or “determinants” and the complex nature and high risks associated with teen pregnancy have made it a great challenge and cost to health care providers to deliver effective care to these patients.

  • Teen pregnancy is often viewed as a cultural, social and economic issue, but that the World Health Organization views the issue as it relates medicine and public health and focuses on the “human development, health, and psychological needs” of this population (Cherry & Dillon 2015).

  • Prenatal care is essential for this group and often without the support of parents – do not proactively seek out prenatal care. Pregnant teens have a higher risk of pregnancy-induced hypertension, preeclampsia, premature birth and other pregnancy complications (CDC 2015).

  • The $11 billion annual expense previously mentioned – includes the high cost of health care for pregnant teens and their children (CDC 2015).

Social Cognitive Theory Among Adolescent Parents

  • Many integrated factors including environment, socioeconomic status, education,family dynamics, cultural views, among others, need to be considered when designing appropriate programs and interventions that address the many influence which affect behavior patterns among teen parents.

  • Social Cognitive theory as one in which development is considered a life-long process and is interested in the multifaceted influences in one’s development, as well as, the psychology of children and adults and the effects, pattern and changes and experience and how that influences outcomes (Bandura, 1989).

  • Social Cognitive behavioral theory would be useful in the development of preventative and interventional programs for teen parents because it addresses the many aspects and influences with multiple determinants that influence teenage pregnancy and parenting.

  • As of 2013, still 57% of adolescent births were primarily from Black or Hispanic teen parents (CDC 2015).

  • The rate of pregnant teens is higher among the black and Hispanic population, yet the black and Hispanic population also has a higher poverty rate (CDC 2015). Hence, a question is raised as to whether the underlying influencing risk factor is poverty or is it related to race or the young age.

  • Having this knowledge of the cultural and ethnic groups allows public health and prevention efforts can be targeted on the priority population of adolescent parents that are at a higher riskof teenage parenting and has allowed CDC to determine a specific focus groups among teenage pregnancies that are at an even higher risk and reduce disparities as well as the overall numbers (CDC 2015).

  • By targeting prevention efforts at higher risk groups -- the number of teenage pregnancies can be reduced significantly in a shorter period of time.

Use of Technology to Support Prevention and Intervention

  • Cell phone applications (such as – which can offer parenting information at the finger tips – are  a great alternative because often child care is limited and sometimes teen parents decline program participation because it is too difficult to travel and go placed with the children (text4baby 2016). 

  • This use of technology offers live and in the moment support which allows teen parents can ask any parenting question at any given moment 24 hours a day – 7 days a week.

  • Social media is another method of reaching large percentage of teen parents to educate and share information regarding available resources and opportunities.

Legal and Ethical Issues

  • The National Research Act was passed by Congress in 1974, andpolicies by theDepartment of Health and Human Services were designed to protect human participants in research, with special considerations paid to vulnerable populations, such as children, elderly, pregnant women, fetuses and embryos, as well as other target groups which might require greater protection (Neutens & Rubinson, 2014).

  • Institutional Review Boards are often required protect human rights and welfare in research, to ensure compliance withfederal regulations – taking into consideration psychological state of research participants, as well as,and other relevant factors including the risk to benefit ratio of the the vulnerability of the population (National Academies Press, 2004).

  • President Barack Obama, has previously noted that -- “We recognize that teen pregnancy touches the lives of Americans in all corners of our country” (National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, 2015).

  • The issue of teen pregnancy and parenting is of significant importance, as societally everyone is affected, even if not on a personal level – we all are affected economically, and in many other ways.

  • Ongoing support of government programs and prevention effortswhich promote education and self-sufficiency among teenage parents is critical to the continuation of the current downward trending in adolescent pregnancy and birth rates. The investment, development, implementation, and promotion of self- sufficiency programs to support the teen parent population will reduce government expense tremendously over the long term by reduce costs which are associated with criminal justice, health care, foster care, and public assistance.

  • Unfortunately, in June of 2016, Senate Appropriations Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (LHHS) Subcommittee passed a spending bill that consists of an 80% reduction in funds previously allocated to programs which have proven effective decreasing teen pregnancy, abortion, and tax dollars spent (The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, 2015).

  • This simple change in funding can lead to a complete reversal in the direction of the decreasing trends in teen pregnancy and all of the prior successful outcomes and demonstrates the importance of government support and policy on outcomes.


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  8. Singh, S & Darroch, J.E. (2000) Family Planning Perspectives 32(1). Adolescent Pregnancy and Childbearing: Levels and Trends in Developed Countries. DOI: 10.2307/2648144. Retrieved from -

  9. Finer, L.B.,Bankole, A., Eilers, M.A. Singh, S. (2015). Journal of Adolescent Health; Adolescent Pregnancy, Birth, and Abortion Rates Across Countries: Levels and Recent Trends. pp.223–230. Guttmacher Institute, New York, New York. Retrieved from --

  10. Hoffman, S. (2006). By The Numbers: The Public Cost of Teen Childbearing. Washington, DC: National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy.

  11. Hudgins, R., Erickson, S., & Walker, D. (2014). Everyone Deserves a Second Chance: A Decade of Supports for Teenage Mothers. Health and Social Work, 39(2), pgs. 101-108.

  12. Jemmott, P. R., Jemmott III, P. K., & Koniak-Griffin, R. E. (2015). Teen Pregnancy Prevention Evidence Review. Retrieved from US Department of Health and Human Services:

  13. Maiden, P. K., Gunter, P. W., Martin, M. S., & Ehrenthal, M. M. (2014). Teen Mothers, Unintended Pregnancies and Costs Across Delaware. Delaware Medical Journal, April 2014, Vol 86 No 4, pgs. 109-116.

  14. National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy (2015).[data files]. Retrieved from - The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy:;;[]=1433

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