Adolescent pregnancy is identified as a high-risk situation that poses serious health risks for both the mother and her baby. It is important to be aware of the different risk factors and precursors that can lead to adolescent pregnancy. As nurses, it is our responsibility to educate ourselves and the community about these issues and provide access to resources that can help prevent adolescent pregnancy. According to research, adolescent pregnancy can be attributed to several risk factors and precursors. Some of the most common ones include lack of access to comprehensive sex education, low socioeconomic status, experience of abuse and neglect, substance abuse, and a lack of knowledge or access to contraceptive methods. In addition, adolescents who have experienced early sexual initiation, or who were not able to refuse unwanted sex, are more likely to engage in unprotected sex and become pregnant (Amoadu et al., 2022). These risk factors are prevalent in communities with low-income earners, and families lacking parental supervision to guide the adolescent sexually.
Communities and states in the US have devoted resources to help prevent adolescent pregnancy. The Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program (APPP) is one resource that provides grants to states and territories to support adolescent pregnancy prevention programs. The APPP’s goals include reducing teenage pregnancy rates, addressing disparities in teen birth rates, and improving adolescent sexual and reproductive health. Other state-based resources include federally funded programs like the Personal Responsibility Education Program, which supports programs focused on pregnancy prevention, and the Title X Family Planning Program. Title X provides dedicated funds for family planning and related reproductive health services for low-income or uninsured individuals, who may otherwise not have access to services of this nature (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, n.d.).
In the US, teen pregnancy rates have been decreasing since the mid-1990s. As of 2019, the birth rates for adolescents aged 15-19 years old was 16.6 births per 1000 females, a decrease of 8% from the previous year. However, in some states and communities, rates are still high, with Mississippi holding the highest rate of adolescent pregnancy in the US (CDC, 2021). The reasons for these disparities between communities can be attributed to variations in access to healthcare, education, and cultural attitudes towards sex and reproductive health. Another possible reason for the decrease seen in recent years is the increased access to and administration of contraceptives. As nurses, we play a vital role in educating adolescents about the risks associated with teenage pregnancy and in offering resources and support for those at risk. Understanding the different risk factors and precursors for adolescent pregnancy, and the resources available to prevent it, is critical to promoting adolescent sexual and reproductive health. While the overall teen pregnancy rates have been decreasing in the US, it is still important to address the disparities between states and communities and work towards access to better healthcare and education, and greater cultural understanding and support for adolescent sexual and reproductive health.