The reason we chose an adolescent pregnancy as our chosen issue is due to the problem of teens in the U.S. having poor quality sex education and poor access to contraceptives. We feel that it all goes back to parents avoiding the topic of safe sex because of this sense of it being taboo and uncomfortable to discuss. Due to this growing misconception, we wanted our intended audience for our Resource Guide to be for parents because of the role they play in adolescents lives. It all starts with them laying down rules and providing them with the opportunity to “communicate honestly and openly with their teenage son or daughter about sex, relationships, and the prevention of HIV, STDs, and pregnancy, they can help promote their teen’s health and reduce the chances that their teen will engage in behaviors that place them at risk”(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016). We feel the format of a brochure will be effective because it is attention-grabbing and accessible. Brochures are a way of obtaining straightforward information without being too lengthy. This will lead to more individuals engaging with the information we have provided.
According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, “In 2016, there were 20.3 births for every 1,000 adolescent females ages 15-19 or 209,809 babies born to females in this age group. Births to teens ages 15-19 account for 5.3 percent of all births in 2016. Nearly nine in ten (89 percent) of these births occurred outside of marriage. The 2016 teen birth rate (births per 1,000 females ages 15-19 in a given year) is down nine percent from 2015, when the birth rate was 22.3, and down 67 percent from 1991 when it was at a record high of 61.8. The teen birth rate has declined more or less continuously over the past quarter-century and is at the lowest level ever recorded. Still, the teen birth rate in the United States remains higher than that in many other developed countries, including Canada and the United Kingdom”(Martin, J.A.,2018)
Adolescent pregnancy has the capabilities to affect multiple members in the family which include the mother, their family, and the child. In the United States, it is still safer to become pregnant when compared to other places, but it is still more of a risk for an adolescent to become pregnant when compared to a person who is older due to health reasons. In fact “according to the World Health Organization (WHO), complications during pregnancy or childbirth are the leading cause of death globally for girls ages 15 to 19”.
This is because the young mother can face physical health risks such as preeclampsia and anemia and the child may encounter premature birth as well as low birth weight. Pre-eclampsia is a disorder that causes high blood pressure in an individual. If a young mother is diagnosed, she faces harmful effects to her kidneys which in this case can even be fatal to herself or her unborn baby. As for the anemia, this disorder causes a reduction in red blood cells which can induce symptoms of feeling weak and tired, overall putting the baby’s development at risk. If the mother is not at optimal health, then her child risks developmental issues.
The risk tends to go up in the circumstance where the teen does not go to an adult for help. In most situations when an adolescent becomes pregnant, they might feel worried about telling their family and friends and can be frightened about the views of others. The notions that society places on teen mothers may be enough to keep her from going to an adult. Not receiving proper help and guidance can induce feelings of isolation, further leading to problems at home or at school causing more stress for the teen. Due to this “many pregnant teens drop out of school, and some never complete their education.” Not completing an education lowers a person’s ability to make a decent earning and excel in the workforce to better provide for a family. That is why it may lead to a lot of young mothers to live in poverty due to them not receiving a full education.
Teen mothers are not the only ones who are affected by this situation, their child encounters some risks as well. A healthy pregnancy normally lasts 40 weeks, however, as previously stated: “teen mothers are more likely to give birth to premature babies.” A premature child lacks complete development in their brain or their body due to them being underweight. Depending on how early the baby is born they may “lead to lifelong difficulties with health and development.” This puts the infant in a difficult situation where they might have trouble either breathing or feeding and can put them at a higher risk for infant mortality due to difficulties with their physical health.
The only way to avoid a pregnancy is to not engage in sexual intercourse; however, there are plenty of other options that teenagers can practice having a safe experience. Teenagers cannot be constricted to not be a part of these activities, in fact “according to a study published in the journal PLoS One, an abstinence-only sex education” actually led to “an increase in teen pregnancies.” The best option is to become educated over the situation. There are various counseling and support programs available for teens to prevent a pregnancy. These groups can provide information on birth control, help teens understand their own sexual limits, and help them understand everything there is to know about a pregnancy. Some of these programs even offer peer counseling, which can make them feel more comfortable since they can talk to someone the same age as them. They can relate to others as well as help them with any concerns.
Another innovative option is taking prescription birth control. They are prescribed through a doctor or can even be available at a women’s health clinic. There are also birth control pills, shots, and patches that affect the hormone levels in a girl that will make them less likely to become pregnant. Not all of the contraceptives have to be prescribed, teens can also buy over-the-counter (OTC) birth control at a drugstore and some supermarkets. While these methods are not as effective as prescription birth control, they do reduce the chance of getting pregnant and are more easily accessible.
Another form of birth control is known as the intrauterine device (IUD) which is implanted in a girl’s uterus. The procedure requires no hospitalization, is well tolerated, and “has a 99 percent rate of effectiveness.” It is an efficient and convenient way that teens can opt to, which will prevent a pregnancy.
Lastly, there are condoms. They are a low-cost effective way that lowers the chances of pregnancy and prevents STD’s. If teens use condoms effectively every time they have sex, then they are 85% to 98% effective at preventing pregnancy. Condoms are extremely accessible to acquire from many stores, community health centers, and even online. No prescription or ID is needed to buy them, and they’re inexpensive (or sometimes even free). Condoms are a small, discreet, and portable way to get big protection from a pregnancy and STDs.
If a teen is already pregnant, there are also options for her to choose from so that she may do what is best for her and her child. There are a variety of options woman can select from when considering terminating a pregnancy. Some of these options include medical abortions and surgical abortions. Surgical abortions, also known as in-clinic abortions, are usually more effective than a medical abortion because they are at a higher guarantee to terminate a pregnancy. The “two types of surgical abortions
are aspiration abortions (the most common type of surgical abortion) dilation and evacuation (D&E) abortions.” The type of abortion a woman has depends on availability, access, how far along the pregnancy is, and her preference. “Women up to 15 weeks pregnant can have an aspiration abortion, while D&E abortions are typically performed at 15 weeks or after”.
Abortion is a very controversial decision, many teens sometimes do not have the option to go through with it because of their values. That is why adoption is another alternative. Giving birth and then legally permitting other individuals to raise the child can give a prepared couple the opportunity to start the family they have always wanted. “Approximately half of the women in the United States have an unplanned pregnancy at some point in her life, and some decide to give birth and give the baby up for adoption.” The process of giving up the child takes place when the woman gives birth, and then another person is chosen to raise the child. It is a permanent legal contract in which the woman agrees to leave her child under the care of another person or family permanently.
As a result of our overall research, it can be determined that adolescent pregnancy has become an issue in the United States due to lack of sex education and lack of access to contraceptives. Teens are unable to gain access to proper sex education, as opposed to European countries who provide sex education at a much younger age and easy access to contraceptives. There are certain areas in the United States where they are trying to remove certain sex education topics altogether because of fear from parents. Which leads to the second cause of why the rate of teen pregnancy is so high. Parents tend to not inform their children about things like STDs, contraceptive methods, or where they can go for help. It is frowned upon to have premarital sex in some cultures, and some families are more strict than others, which causes the teens to become less informed on the subject because they are told to remain abstinent. Adolescents and parents need to find ways to engage in conversations on practicing safe sex, even if it may seem like an awkward conversation for both parties. Helping parents communicate with their teens was the primary goal of our brochure, and it provided help for teens whose parents may not give them the access they need to helpful websites and information.
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