Teenage pregnancy : signs, effects, diagnosis and prevention

Teenage or adolescent pregnancy is a global issue that affects high-, middle-, and low-income countries alike. When a woman under the age of 20 becomes pregnant, it is known as a teen pregnancy. It mainly refers to adolescent girls between the ages of 15 and 19. It can, however, include girls as young as 10 years old. When girls are denied the freedom to make decisions about their sexual and reproductive health and well-being, teen pregnancy rates rise. Adolescent pregnancies are a worldwide issue, but they are more common in poorer and marginalised communities, where poverty and a lack of education and employment possibilities are frequent.

Every year, an estimated 21 million adolescents between the ages of 15 and 19 become pregnant in developing countries, with roughly 12 million giving birth. In developing countries, at least 777,000 adolescent girls under the age of 15 give birth. In least developed countries, at least 39% of girls marry before they reach the age of 18, and 13% before they reach the age of 15. (World Health Organization)

Signs of pregnancy

The typical symptom of pregnancy is missing one or more menstrual periods. However, for teenage females whose cycles aren't yet regular, this can be difficult. Girls with irregular cycles due to dieting or exercise, low body fat from sports, or anorexia may find it difficult to realise. Here's what you should know about pregnancy's early indicators. The following are some of the most common early signs and symptoms of pregnancy:

  1. Missed period: If you're in your childbearing years and your menstrual cycle hasn't started after a week or longer, you might be pregnant. However, if you have an irregular menstrual cycle, this symptom can be mistaken.

  2. Tender or swollen breasts: Hormonal changes early in pregnancy might make your breasts sore and sensitive. As your body adjusts to hormonal changes, the discomfort should subside after a few weeks.

  3. Nausea or vomiting: Though it is commonly referred to as "morning sickness," it can occur at any time of day. It usually starts one month after you're pregnant. Some women, on the other hand, experience nausea earlier, while others never do.

  4. Frequent urination: During pregnancy, the volume of blood in the body increases, making the kidneys to process more fluid that ends up in the bladder.

  5. Fatigue: Fatigue is also one of the most common early pregnancy symptoms. The hormone progesterone rises dramatically throughout early pregnancy, making you tired.

  6. Mood swings: Mood swings are common early in pregnancy, as the surge of hormones in your body might make you feel especially emotional and teary.

  7. Bloating: Early in pregnancy, hormonal shifts might make you feel bloated, similar to how you would feel at the start of your menstrual period.

  8. Light spotting: One of the earliest indicators of pregnancy might light spotting. When the fertilised egg adheres to the uterine lining approximately 10 to 14 days after conception, implantation bleeding occurs. Implantation bleeding usually happens around the same time as a menstrual cycle. It is not, however, experienced by all women.

  9. Food aversions: A sudden, strong dislike for certain foods, particularly meats and fatty, fried meals. You may become more sensitive to some scents and your sense of taste may change when pregnant. These food preferences, like most other pregnant symptoms, can be attributed to hormonal changes.

Effects of teenage pregnancy

Preeclampsia, that is high blood pressure caused by pregnancy and its complications are more common in teenagers than in average-aged mothers. Premature birth and low birth weight are two risks for the newborn. Preeclampsia can damage the kidneys and potentially kill the mother or the baby. Pregnant teenagers are also more likely to become anaemic. Anemia is a condition in which the quantity of red blood cells (RBCs) in the body is reduced.

Premature infants are more likely to be born to teen moms. These babies' bodies and brains may not be fully developed at times. This might cause health and development problems for the infant for the rest of his or her life, depending on how premature the baby is. Preterm babies are also more likely to be underweight. As infants, underweight babies may have difficulty breathing and feeding. Low birth weight has an impact on brain development as well. Learning problems have been reported in children who were born underweight. In addition to being at a higher risk of being underweight, babies born to adolescent mothers have a higher infant mortality rate. 

Pregnancy and childbirth complications are the primary cause of deaths among girls aged 15 to 19, with low- and middle-income countries responsible for 99% of worldwide maternal deaths among women aged 15 to 49. Eclampsia, puerperal endometritis, and systemic infections are more common in teen mothers aged 10–19 years than in women aged 20–24 years. In addition, about 3.9 million unsafe abortions among females aged 15–19 years take place each year, contributing to maternal death, morbidity, and long-term health issues.

Diagnosis of teenage pregnancy

Home pregnancy tests are available at most supermarkets and drugstores. You can use these home tests a week after you miss your period. Human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) is a hormone that is detected in all pregnancy tests. The at-home tests look HCG in your urine. You could also get a blood test or physical examination that are available at a doctor's office. A blood test has the advantage of being able to tell you if you're pregnant around a week earlier than home kits. Both at-home and in-office tests are quite accurate.

Home pregnancy tests are 97–99% accurate when done appropriately. A pregnancy blood test is performed in the office of a health care practitioner. It can detect smaller amounts of HCG than a urine test and therefore confirm or rule out a pregnancy sooner. Even if you haven't missed a period, a blood test can detect pregnancy. Blood tests for pregnancy are 99% accurate. The results of a home pregnancy test are typically confirmed with a blood test.

Prevention of teenage pregnancy

The problem poses the question of what can be done to prevent and reduce adolescent pregnancy rates. Teenagers must have a thorough awareness of abstinence, contraceptive methods, and repercussions in order to avoid adolescent pregnancy. Although there are a variety of methods for preventing a teenage girl from becoming pregnant, sexual abstinence is the only one that is 100% successful. This is the only approach that ensures there is no chance of becoming pregnant and protects the adolescent from STDs.

Various contraceptive methods are another form of teen pregnancy prevention that should be taught in schools. It is true that a significant proportion of teens will engage in sexual interactions. As a result, it's critical that teenagers be given a wide range of information on how to do so safely while utilising various contraceptive methods. The issue that arises as a result of this is that teens aren't getting enough information about the many types of birth control, condoms, and other methods of prevention that are available.

The true implications of having a child at such a young age are unclear to most teens. Teens should be informed of the harsh realities of raising a child, as well as the severe consequences of an unplanned pregnancy on both the mother and the child's lives. Weaker newborn health and a higher risk of early infant mortality; delayed cognitive development, particularly verbal development; poorer school success; lower career attainment; increased behaviour issues; less impulse control; distorted social development; and increased welfare reliance; are some of the consequences of adolescent pregnancy (Patrick F. Fagan).

Early marriage, teen pregnancy, anaemia, and a high rate of maternal death continue to be problematic. The program's poor implementation is most likely to blame. A comprehensive and convergent approach across many departments to cover all of the requirements of teenagers is urgently required. Strong regulations and procedures to prevent underage marriages and subsequent pregnancies are exactly what the world needs.


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