A child whose mother had her as a teenager is set up to have a tough life. Compared with peers whose parents gave birth later, this child is at a greater risk of being born prematurely , of struggling to acquire basic skills such as literacy and self-control, and of underperforming in school. This child is also more likely to become a teen mother herself. The child of a teen mom is bound to inherit the circumstances—poverty, familial instability—that potentially contributed to the pregnancy in the first place. And the baby might encounter those circumstances more acutely, because teen motherhood itself can create new layers of hardship for both parent and child.
Teenage pregnancies and teenage motherhood are a cause for concern worldwide. From a historical point of view, teenage pregnancies are nothing new. For much of human history, it was absolutely common that girls married during their late adolescence and experienced first birth during their second decade of life. This kind of reproductive behavior was socially desired and considered as normal. Nowadays, however, the prevention of teenage pregnancies and teenage motherhood is a priority for public health in nearly all developed and increasingly in developing countries. For a long time, teenage pregnancies were associated with severe medical problems; however, most of data supporting this viewpoint have been collected some decades ago and reflect mainly the situation of per se socially disadvantaged teenage mothers.
To understand the consequences of adolescent pregnancy and childbearing for the family, mothers from three types offamilies were studied: families in which all teenage daughters had never been pregnant, families in which only one teenager was currently pregnant, and families in which only one teenager had delivered a baby within the previous 6 months. Mothers were assessed twice, 13 months apart. Results indicated that, compared with the mothers of never-pregnant teens, the mothers of parenting teens monitored their children less. Across-time analyses showed that, in families in which the teenager was initially pregnant, mothers monitored and communicated less with their other children and were more accepting of teenage sex after the older daughter gave birth.
Adolescent pregnancies are a global problem but occur most often in poorer and marginalised communities. Many girls face considerable pressure to marry early and become mothers while they are still a child. Teenage pregnancy increases when girls are denied the right to make decisions about their sexual and reproductive health and well-being. Girls must be able to make their own decisions about their bodies and futures and have access to appropriate healthcare services and education. Girls who have received minimal education are 5 times more likely to become a mother than those with higher levels of education.