In the United States, approximately 410,000 teens between the ages of 15 - 19 gave birth in the year 2009 (“Vital Signs,” 2011). Although the teen birth rate in the United States during 1991-2009 has declined to its lowest level in the past 70 years, when compared to other developed countries lowest birth rates, the U.S. is still six to nine times higher in teen birth rates (p. 419). In 2006, over 750,000 women became pregnant; the pregnancy rate for women 15-19 years old was 71.5 pregnancies per 1,000 women (Kost, Henshaw, and Carlin, 2010). The live birth rate for 15-19 year old women in 2009 was 39.1 births per 1,000 females; this being the lowest rate ever recorded (“Vital Signs,” 2011).
Teen pregnancy, also known as adolescent pregnancy, is referred to as a women being pregnant and delivering a baby while under the age of 20. As stated in Aretakis (2011), “The causes of teen pregnancy are diverse and affected by changing moral attitudes, sexual codes, and economic circumstances” (p. 769). Additional precursors to adolescent pregnancy include family structure (the attitudes and behavior of the family, partners, and peers); first time menstruation and other biophysical changes; disinterest from school; and risk-taking attitudes and behaviors (Driessnack, 2009). Pregnancy in adolescents occurs in all parts of the country, among all ethnic and religious backgrounds, in public and private schools, and across all socioeconomic classes (Balakas, 2009).
The ideal treatment in teen pregnancy is to make sure that both the mother and fetus progress as expected. To achieve this, early prenatal supervision is strongly suggested throughout the pregnancy, as this results in less harm to both the mother and child (Balakas, 2009). Often times, pregnant teens need special attention in regards to their nutrition, psychological state, and health status (p. 174).
Nutrition for a pregnant adolescent is of utmost importance in order for the mother and fetus to maintain a healthy pregnancy. If pregnancy happens to occur within the first four years of an adolescent’s menarche, both the adolescent and fetus are at risk for malnutrition due to anatomical and physiological immaturity (Stockert, 2009). Since most teenage girls are generally cautious about gaining weight, malnutrition is usually already present at the time of conception, increasing the risk of complications to the mother and fetus (p. 1093). “The diet of pregnant adolescents is often deficient in calcium, iron, and vitamins A and C…. Prenatal vitamin and mineral supplements are recommended” (Stockert, 2009, p. 1093). On account of their age, counseling the pregnant adolescent about the nutritional needs of pregnancy is generally quite difficult. It is proposed that teens tolerate suggestions and discussion better than inflexible instructions (p. 1093).
The expected outcome of teen pregnancy would be to deliver a happy and healthy baby. This can be achieved through proper...