Pregnant adolescents aged 12–17 years are more likely than 18- or 19-year-olds to report that their babies would enhance their relationships with others, and older teens are more likely to identify the challenges of teen motherhood, data collected from 247 girls who sought care at a prenatal clinic show.
Understanding the variations in pregnant girls' attitudes toward pregnancy can help health care providers target interventions, although the differences among age and cultural subgroups did not reach statistical significance, reported Cynthia Rosengard, Ph.D., of Rhode Island Hospital in Providence and her colleagues (Pediatrics 2006;118:503–10).
The adolescents completed questionnaires and interviews about the pros and cons of having a baby as a teen. Their mean age was 16.8 years, and data were collected over a 2-year period.
The girls reported stronger connections with others and a sense of responsibility and purpose that might discourage them from other risky behaviors as some advantages of teen pregnancy. Disadvantages included financial concerns, lack of preparedness for motherhood, changing life plans, and missing out on other teenage experiences.
Disadvantages outweighed advantages overall, but several subgroup trends emerged.
For example, 64 of 117 (55%) Hispanic teens said having a baby would enhance their connections with others, vs. 62 of 130 (48%) non-Hispanic teens. But most Hispanic and non-Hispanic teens (84% and 75%, respectively) identified changes in life plans as a significant disadvantage to pregnancy.
Additionally, 26 of 58 girls with intended pregnancies (45%) associated the pregnancy with positive changes, vs. 61 of 189 (32%) of girls whose pregnancies were unintended.