Adolescent Pregnancy and Parenting: Controversies of the Past and Lessons for the Future

J Adolesc Health. 1993 Nov;14(7):553-61. doi: 10.1016/1054-139x(93)90140-k.


Recent research findings suggest that old ways of looking at adolescent sexuality, pregnancy, and parenting should be revised and that new approaches to service programs should be developed. This paper presents some new facts by examining the validity of nine beliefs about adolescent pregnancy: that nothing can reduce the rate of adolescent pregnancy; that pregnant adolescents experience poor pregnancy outcomes; that adolescent mothers do not complete their high school education; that pregnant adolescents have large families; that adolescent mothers remain on welfare for long periods; that pregnancy in adolescence is a mistake and, given a chance to overcome the immediate problems associated with it, young mothers can go on to lead normal lives; that welfare causes adolescent pregnancy and parenting; that adolescent mothers are poor parents; and that service programs can have a significant impact on adolescent pregnancy and parenting. Although programs aimed at the prevention and amelioration of the problems experienced by pregnant adolescents, young mothers, and their children and families have shown some success, relatively few are sufficiently powerful to bring about major changes--and even these are infrequently replicated because of high costs. Further progress in this area depends not only on new and expanded programs, but also on attacking the problem of poverty, which is an underlying cause of early sexual activity and childbearing.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior*
  • Female
  • Forecasting
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Parenting*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Pregnancy in Adolescence*
  • Program Development
  • Sexual Behavior
  • Social Class
  • United States