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Research poster presentation Adolescent relationship and sexual behavior| Volume 38, ISSUE 2, P154-155, February 01, 2006

78: Concepts of the advantages and disadvantages of teenage childbearing among pregnant adolescents

A qualitative analysis

      Purpose

      To explore what pregnant adolescents see as the pros and cons of having a baby during their teen years instead of waiting until they are older.

      Methods

      Pregnant teens (12 to 19 years of age) were approached before their first prenatal appointments to participate in an interview exploring pregnancy intentions and background behaviors (February 2002 to August 2004). Qualitative and quantitative data from participants who provided written responses to two open-ended questions were used in the current study.

      Results

      The sample consisted of 246 pregnant teenagers (average age= 16.84, SD= 1.54; 47%, Hispanic, 20% Non-Hispanic White; 18% Non-Hispanic Black; 15% Other). Coded themes associated with perceived advantages of teen childbearing included enhancement of family and other relationships (someone to love, close in age to child, family/partner support), benefits for teen’s life and positive changes (becoming more responsible, having purpose in life, growing up with their child). In contrast, themes associated with perceived disadvantages of teen childbearing included feeling unprepared for parenting (too young, lack of stability/resources), requirements to change and/or abandon life goals (putting their life on hold, missing out on being a teen, taking on more responsibilities), and other’s judgment/view of teen mother. Age, ethnic/racial, and pregnancy intentions differences in identified themes emerged.

      Conclusions

      Understanding how pregnant adolescent girls at different ages, from different backgrounds and with different pregnancy intentions view the potentially good and bad effects of having children during their teens years provides a window into their expectations for the future and may inform interventions for pregnant/parenting teens regarding the realities of teenage parenting.

      Support

      The first author is supported by the National Institutes of Mental Health (Grant# 1 K01 MH067490-01), MGP was supported by the NIH Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health (BIRCWH) program (K12 HD43447-01) and the research was supported by the Rhode Island Foundation.