What Are the Effects of Teenage Pregnancy?

According to the March of Dimes, 30% of young women younger than 20 years of age become pregnant at least once. Because of the wide-ranging effects to the individual mothers and children as well as society as a whole, programs to help prevent teen pregnancy are a priority for schools, community groups and government agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Baby Health Effects

Because of the higher levels of preterm labor among teens, more babies born to teenage mothers experience the effects of premature birth, including low birth weight, respiratory problems and developmental delays. The health problems babies of teen moms experience extend past the few months after birth and lead to higher rates of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), as well as an overall death rate higher than that of other infants. According to Medline Plus, the younger the mother is, the more likely her baby will die before reaching 1 year of age.


The March of Dimes explains that pregnant teens develop more complications in their pregnancies than older women do. Pregnant teens have higher rates of going into preterm labor. Anemia and high blood pressure during pregnancy are other common pregnancy complications experienced by teen mothers-to-be. Placental problems such as placenta previa also occur more often in teen moms than other groups.

Effects on Mother’s Health

Teenage pregnancy takes a toll on the body of the young mother. The abdomen stretches with the growing baby and the breasts enlarge and become tender, and the teen may experience symptoms such as fatigue, nausea or frequent urination that make her everyday activities more difficult. Unhealthy lifestyle choices are more prevalent in teen mothers, adding to the potential health effects on the mother and the baby. These include smoking, drinking and not receiving regular medical care during the pregnancy.

Personal Effects

The Mayo Clinic explains that the personal effects of teen pregnancy may include a higher risk of future poverty and domestic violence for the teenage mother. Pregnant teenagers and teenage fathers are also less likely to graduate from high school. The emotional impact of choosing the outcome of teen pregnancy may also take a toll on the teenager’s mental state. Abortion, adoption and raising the child herself all carry different but significant impacts.

Social Effects

According to the CDC, children born to teenage mothers have an effect on society as well. These babies are more likely to rely on public health care throughout their lives and because they also have more chronic medical conditions, this places a higher burden on the health system. Unemployment and incarceration are also higher among children of teenage mothers, which incurs more cost to society.

About this Author

Bridget Coila has been writing professionally since 1998 and specializes in health, science and nutrition topics. Some of her articles have appeared in “Oxygen,” “American Fitness” and “Suite 101.” Coila has a B.S. in cell and molecular biology from the University of Cincinnati and 10 years of medical research experience.