Nihad Ademovic - Gabe Arroyo
In 2013 the latest year for which statistics are available, the U.S. pregnancy rate among girls between 15 and 19 was 26.6 births for every 1,000, according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unwanted Pregnancy. The rate has steadily declined since 1991, when it was 117 per 1,000 teens between the same ages.
In 2011, teen pregnancy and childbirth accounted for at least $9.4 billion in costs to U.S. taxpayers for increased health care and foster care, increased incarceration rates among children of teen parents, and lost tax revenue because of lower educational attainment and income among teen mothers.
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Pregnancy signs that can't be ignored
Missing one or more menstrual periods is the classic sign of pregnancy. But this can be tricky for teenage girls, whose periods aren't yet regular. It can also be tricky for girls whose cycles are off as a result of excessive dieting or exercise, low body fat from sports, or anorexia.
Life threatening risk
Teenage girls who are pregnant -- especially if they don't have support from their parents -- are at risk of not getting adequate prenatal care. Prenatal care is critical, especially in the first months of pregnancy.Pregnant teens have a higher risk of getting high blood pressure -- called pregnancy-induced hypertension -- than pregnant women in their 20s or 30s.A full-term pregnancy lasts about 40 weeks. A baby that delivers before 37 weeks is a premature baby, or "preemie." In some cases, premature labor that begins too early in pregnancy can be stopped by medications and bed rest. Other times, the baby has to be delivered early for the health of the mother or infant. The earlier a baby is born, the more risk there is of respiratory, digestive, vision, cognitive, and other problems.Teens are at higher risk of having low-birth-weight babies. Premature babies are more likely to weigh less than they should. In part, that’s because they've had less time in the womb to grow. A low-birth-weight baby weighs only 3.3 to 5.5 pounds.