You may have seen something this week about the ten year old (you read that correctly) girl in Spain who gave birth. Apparently, this isn’t quite the youngest girl on record to have done this, but it’s still pretty darn early in my book.
Aside from the obvious shock factor of her unusually young age, this young girl took on some significant health risks carrying the baby to term. If you have kids, this info can be a good supplement to your talks about sex and growing up.
Lack of Good Prenatal Care – Girls who hide their pregnancies don’t get monitored and educated about how to take care of themselves. This can even happen with parents who do support their daughter through her pregnancy.
Menstrual cycles can be somewhat random, making it difficult to detect possible pregnancy for several months. Any unhealthy behaviors like drinking, smoking, drug use, or poor nutrition can impact the baby before anything can be done.
Low Birth Weight and Premature Babies – A teen girl’s body is not done maturing or growing, making it difficult for her to meet the needs of her own body and a growing baby. Drinking, smoking, drug use, and poor nutrition can all contribute to low birth weight and premature birth. Recent research continues to show evidence of these risk for teen girls and their babies.
Social Problems and Disadvantages – There is a connection between lower economic status and a higher rate of births by teen girls. This puts many babies at a disadvantage right away. Teen mothers are less likely to complete their education, including higher education that can help them get better paying jobs. Also, the teen mothers may not have much support from family and may feel very isolated from their peers. Depression is a possibility.
Plus, teen girls haven’t developed as many coping skills or the emotional maturity of mothers in their twenties and beyond. Motherhood can be a difficult experience at this young age. If the pregnancy is a result of an assault or an abusive situation, the girl is even more likely to hide it until the last minute.
Of course, there are always exceptions to everything. You can certainly find stories of teen moms who have done well raising their child or children. You or someone in your family may even be among those success stories. But positive anecdotes don’t reduce the risk a young girl takes on when she becomes pregnant.
Parents Talk To Your Sons And Daughters About Teen Pregnancy
Parents, you need to be sure your daughters AND your sons hear about this. The girl may be the only one who takes on the physical risks, but both are responsible for another person’s life. Also, consider that pregnancies resulting from sexual abuse or assault require particular sensitivity and care.
Talk to your kids early about sex, personal boundaries, dignity, and making smart choices. Also, really be there for your teen. You aren’t going to be able to prevent them from doing everything, but the strength of your relationship really counts. They’ll be a lot less likely to cross certain personal boundaries if you are their rock.
Readers – this can be a sensitive and challenging topic. Please share your opinions and experiences if you wish.
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Last reviewed: 5 Nov 2010