A teenage pregnancy carries physical consequences for the mother, and it can also affect the physical development of the unborn baby and his future development. It is possible for a baby born out of a teenage pregnancy to be healthy and developmentally on schedule, but there are still risks involved. Fortunately, many of the baby's potential developmental consequences are preventable with proper nutrition and prenatal care.
The Ohio State University Extension states that a pregnant teenager needs more nutrients than a pregnant adult. This is because her body is still growing, so she needs nutrients for herself and the unborn baby to prevent additional stress for her body. She will need to eat one more serving of nearly every food group than a pregnant adult in order to provide adequate nourishment for the baby. This means that she should consume four servings of dairy, three servings of meat or poultry, four servings of fruit, five servings of vegetables and 10 servings of bread or cereal each day.
Prenatal care allows a medical professional to adequately measure an unborn baby’s development in the womb. With regular checkups and ultrasounds, any developmental issues can be detected early. StayTeen.org states that pregnant teenagers are less likely to seek prenatal care early and consistently enough. This could mean that developmental issues are not caught as early as possible.
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) occurs when a baby is affected by the mother drinking alcohol during pregnancy. Alcohol passes through the placenta, causing potential physical and mental defects. A baby born with FAS may weigh less than the average baby at birth and remain small throughout his life. He could also have a malformed face, heart problems or mental retardation. The Ohio State University Extension states that the number of alcoholic women of childbearing age is growing, especially among teenagers.
Prematurity and Mortality
StayTeen.org states that babies born to teenage mothers are more likely to be born premature, which is before 37 weeks gestation. According to Kids Health, a premature baby is more prone to problems such as apnea spells, where he stops breathing because the area of his brain that controls breathing is immature. He may also be behind reaching developmental milestones. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also state that there is a higher rate of infant death among babies born to teenage mothers.
A baby born to a teenage mother may be more likely to experience chronic medical problems throughout his life. StayTeen.org also states that he is more likely to have a low birth weight, which could be attributed to the fact that teenage mothers are more likely to smoke during pregnancy.