Teenage pregnancy is associated with increased risk of poor social, economic and health outcomes for both mother and child. A factor strongly associated with deferring pregnancy is a good general education. The health and development of teenage mothers and their children has been shown to benefit from programmes promoting access to antenatal care, targeted support by health visitors, social workers or 'lay mothers' and provision of social support, educational opportunities and pre-school education. School-based sex education can be effective in reducing teenage pregnancy especially when linked to access to contraceptive services. The most reliable evidence shows that it does not increase sexual activity or pregnancy rates. Contraceptives when used properly are highly cost effective and can result in significant savings. Increasing the availability of contraceptive clinic services for young people is associated with reduced pregnancy rates. Contraceptive services should be based on an assessment of local needs and ensure accessibility and confidentiality. This issue of Effective Health Care summarises the research evidence on approaches to preventing teenage pregnancy and alleviating the direct negative health and social effects of teenage pregnancy. It is aimed principally at purchasers and providers of health care services, and those in other sectors responsible for young people's services. It is hoped that the review will help inform discussions about the best ways of developing, organising, delivering and monitoring services to young people. Two main approaches to the prevention of teenage pregnancy are examined: educational interventions (primarily schoolbased), and the provision and delivery of contraceptive and counselling services. Strategies for the alleviation of the adverse health, educational, and social outcomes are also reviewed. The bulletin concludes with a summary of some of the implications for health, education and social services and the areas for further research. Effective Health Care is based on systematic reviews of the research evidence carried out using structured guidelines
An overview of recent research on adolescent sexual activity, pregnancy, and parenthood is presented, with a focus on the dearth of knowledge concerning psychological precursors and consequences. Although the rate of teenage childbearing has decreased substantially this century, increasing rates of sexual activity, illegitimacy, and welfare receipt raise public concerns. New research is discussed that suggests that many negative outcomes previously ascribed to mothers' age are as much causes or correlates of teenage pregnancy as effects of it, although this claim is less substantiated regarding effects on children of teenage mothers.
Adolescent Pregnancy as a Societal Concern
Adolescent pregnancy has long been a societal concern, but in the past decade, this issue has become one of the most frequently cited examples of the perceived societal decay in the United States (U.S. House of Representatives, 2006). In 2000, 1,040,000 adolescents under the age of 20 became pregnant, approximately 530,000 (51%) of whom gave birth (Alan Guttmacher Institute, 2004). Ironically, the rate of births to teenagers is much lower now than it has been throughout much of the 20th century. Between 1960 and 1985, the rate of births to female adolescents declined substantially, falling from ...