The cited statistics on teenage pregnancy represent a great deal of human suffering. A pregnant teenager is more likely to have physical complications than a woman in her 20s. These complications include anemia, toxemia, hypertension, hemorrhage, miscar­riage, and even death (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2006). Adolescent pregnancy is also associated with prenatal and infant mortality rates that are markedly higher than the rates among older pregnant women (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2006; Centers for Disease Control, 2011g).

Pregnant teenagers are also at especially high risk for STIs because of a likely reduc­tion in the use of condoms, which are no longer needed to prevent pregnancy. Research indicates that less than 30% and perhaps as few as 8% of sexually active pregnant adoles­cent women use condoms consistently during intercourse (Byrd et al., 1998; Niccolai et al., 2003). These findings are disturbing because the resultant increase in susceptibility to STIs during pregnancy can have negative health consequences for both the youthful mother and her baby.

A teenager’s unintended pregnancy and the decision to keep her child often have a serious negative effect on her education and on her financial resources (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2006; Cavazos-Rehg et al., 2011). Although it is now illegal to bar pregnant teenagers and teen mothers from public school, a large number of these young women drop out of school, and many do not return (Centers for Disease Control, 2011g; Harrison et al., 2012). Faced with the burden of child-care duties and the limitations of inadequate education, teenage mothers are often underemployed or unemployed and dependent on social services agencies (Paukku et al., 2003; Shearer et al., 2002). Furthermore, low education levels and limited employment skills often thwart the efforts of these young mothers to obtain economic independence as they move beyond their teenage years.

The negative effect of adolescent pregnancy is further exhibited in the lives of the resulting children. Teenage mothers often provide parenting of a lower quality than adult mothers do (Coley & Chase-Lansdale, 1998; Stier et al., 1993). In addition, the children of teenage mothers are at greater risk of having physical, cognitive, and emo­tional problems than are the children of adult mothers (Cavazos-Rehg et al., 2011; Cen­ters for Disease Control, 2011g). These children of young mothers are also more likely to demonstrate deficits in intellectual ability and school performance than are children of older mothers (Cavazos-Rehg et al., 2011; Harrison et al., 2012).