The paper “ The Rise in Teenage Mothers Having Premature Births” is a thrilling example of a literature review on social science. In one of the reports prepared by Save the Children foundation, it was found that, annually, 13 million children are born to women under age 20 worldwide out of which more than 90% are in developing countries. (Mayor, 2004) The leading cause of mortality among women between the ages of 15 and 19 are the complications of pregnancy and childbirth. The highest rate of teenage pregnancy in the world is in sub-Saharan Africa, where women tend to marry at an early age.
(Treffers, 2003) Amongst the developed countries, the teenage birth rate in the United States is the highest. (UNICEF, 2001), though the teenage pregnancy rate is decreasing significantly since the early 1990s. Research has shown that the worldwide incidence of premature birth and low birth weight is higher among adolescent mothers. (Makinson, 1985) Actually the pregnant teens do not seek prenatal care, and even if they do, they come very late usually in the third trimester. Thus most of the pregnant teens have nutritional deficiencies from poor eating habits common in adolescence, including attempts to lose weight through dieting, skipping meals, food faddism, snacking, and consumption of junk food. It has been seen that developed and developing countries have distinctly different rates of teenage pregnancy.
In most of the developed regions, the root cause of teen pregnancies is the lifestyles and casual approach to sex and they are generally unmarried. Thus this is more of a social issue. But in developing countries, early marriages are the main cause of teen pregnancies. The parent is usually married, and their pregnancy is welcomed by family and society These countries are characterized by low age at marriage, poverty, low value and self-esteem of girls, low level of education and low level of contraceptive use, early childbearing, sexual abuse, and assault.
But the incidence of malnutrition and poor health care still remains due to low educational levels. The table below shows the teenage birth rates across selected countries. Indicator: Births per 1000 women (15-19 ys) – 2002 UNFPA, State of World Population 2003 As we can see from the figures, this problem is prevalent all over the world.
And this involves the birth of children who are the future citizens of the world. Thus the problem assumes significant proportions when seen from this perspective. And it is not only a medical issue, but it is also a social problem as well for the whole society. This is because the teenage pregnancies are strongly associated with a range of disadvantages for the mother, for her child, and for society in general. Specifically, giving birth as a teenager is believed to be bad for the young mother because the statistics suggest that she is more likely to drop out of school, to have no or low qualifications, to be unemployed or low-paid, to live in poor housing conditions, to suffer from depression, and to live on welfare.
Similarly, the child of a teenage mother is more likely to live in poverty, to grow up without a father, to become a victim of neglect or abuse, to do less well at school, to become involved in crime, to abuse drugs and alcohol, and eventually to become a teenage parent and begin the cycle all over again.
Therefore, teenage births are also seen as a burden for the society that must cope with this long list of negatives. That is why the issue attracts so much popular and political interest.