Focus on adolescent pregnancy and childbearing: A bit of history and implications for the 21st century
Pregnancy in Adolescence
This article focuses on the issue of adolescent pregnancy and childbearing in the US, including the history of the problem and its implications for the 21st century. It is noted that early childbearing in the US has roots in the past, identifying changing marital patterns and more tolerant social norms as the catalysts for the increase in rates. The problem has been the focus of intense partisan debate primarily for three reasons: 1) sexual activity has increased sharply, more recently among the youngest teens; 2) out-of-wedlock childbearing has risen among all teenagers, regardless of age; and 3) the issue of welfare. In addition, the problem is expected to have demographic, social, and economic ramifications in the future. Based on a review of statistics, recommended means of mitigating the negative effects of early childbearing include the development of interventions to improve school experiences and to encourage pursuit of higher levels of education, as well as legitimizing the use of contraceptives and making them widely available.