Pediatrics Article Focuses on the Unique Needs of Pregnant Adolescents
For the purpose of this study, adolescents were defined as 15-19 years old; young, adult women were defined as 20-24 years old; and adult women were defined as being older than 25.
- 75% of adolescents reported being happy about being pregnant, compared with 94% of adult women.
- 73% of adolescents reported wanting to be pregnant later or not at all.
- 87% of adolescents reported having support available to them all or most of the time.
- 41% of adolescents reported experiencing abusive acts within the previous two years. 22% of young adult women reported the same and 8% of adult women reporting abusive acts within the previous two years. In all three cases, the person who was violent towards the respondent was a partner, husband or boyfriend in over 50% of the reported cases.
- All three groups reported a similar number of respondents feeling stressed most of the time.
- Adolescents were almost six times as likely report abuse by a family member.
- Adolescents reported higher negative health behaviours – not taking folic acid; smoking before and during pregnancy, as well as during the post-partum period; living with someone who smoked; and using illicit drugs before pregnancy.
- Adolescents were far less likely to have a caesarean delivery than adult women.
- Fewer adolescents intend to and follow through with breastfeeding than adult women.
- All three groups reported similar health care utilization and experiences within the health care system.
The study concludes by addressing the relatively little work or research that has been done on understanding the needs of pregnant or port-partum adolescents. Most of the research on this group is directed at the prevention of pregnancy. A few common themes emerge from this study:
The issue of physical abuse by either a partner or family member emerged as an issue for adolescents. Additional research regarding the safety needs of pregnant adolescents is needed, as well as a more broadly implemented screening for domestic violence during pregnancy.
The article offers group based prenatal care as a promising approach to encouraging adolescent mothers to increase health care utilization.
The article highlights a need to address and understand the factors contributing to low initiation and early cessation of breastfeeding amongst the adolescent group. The studies that have been done suggest that adolescents have unique beliefs and learning needs regarding breastfeeding information and may require alternative approaches by health care professionals. This could include additional community-based, post-partum support for adolescent mothers.
Finally, the article urges for messages regarding the benefits of folic acid to be developed specifically for adolescents, both those who are pregnant and those who are sexually active and may become pregnant.
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