Young teens see pregnancy as a way to enhance relationships

Providence, RI Younger teen-agers who become pregnant tend to view pregnancy as a way to form or enhance connections with others, and are less likely to think they are unprepared to raise a child. By contrast, pregnant teens who are 18 or 19 years old acknowledge that they lack preparedness, but say there are advantages to having a baby earlier in life. These observations offer some insight into how to prevent teen pregnancies, researchers say in a paper published in the current issue of Pediatrics.

"We need to help teen-agers identify ways to connect with others in life besides motherhood," says lead author Cynthia Rosengard, PhD, MPH, a researcher in internal medicine at Rhode Island Hospital and an assistant professor of medicine at Brown Medical School. "If those connections are lacking in a teen-ager's life, that's something we all need to look at whether we're parents, teachers or physicians."

The study was conducted with 247 pregnant adolescents, ages 12 to 19, who were seeking prenatal care at a primary care clinic. They were given a survey that asked for demographic information and included open-ended questions about the advantages and disadvantages of being pregnant as a teen-ager compared to waiting until they were older.

While the teens' answers varied, there were common themes. Among the list of advantages, they believed a baby would help them form connections with others, such as bringing them closer to their boyfriend or creating a family. One 13-year-old noted as an advantage, "being able to play along with your child not only being his/her parent but being a friend."

Some said if they had a baby early in life, that would give them more time later to accomplish what they wanted. For example, one adolescent said her child would be older when she wanted to become a lawyer. Others expressed concerns about fertility later in life. And some said they would receive more support as a young parent than if they were olde

Contact: Nicole Gustin

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