Health risks of early pregnancy

Pregnancy before the age of 18 has several health risks. Some of these health risks include:

Prolonged or obstructed labour: adolescents younger than 18 often have not reached physical maturity and when they become pregnant, their pelvises may be too narrow to accommodate the baby's head during delivery. In these cases, obstructed delivery and prolonged labour are more likely, thereby increasing the risk of haemorrhage (bleeding), infection and fistula.

Pre-eclampsia (hypertension in pregnancy) is common in adolescent pregnancy. If it is left uncontrolled, it can progress to extreme hypertension. This condition could lead to the death of both the young mother and the baby.

Premature birth and stil birth: infants born to adolescent mothers are more likely to be premature, of low birth weight, and to suffer consequences of retarded fetal growth. Stillbirth is more common among adolescent mothers than older mothers.

Health professional talking with a young married woman

A health professional talking with a young married woman.

Pregnancy in adolescents, especially if they are unmarried, is almost always unwanted.

What do you think unwanted pregnancy could lead to in young girls?

Show answer

Unwanted pregnancy in adolescents could cause them to resort to unsafe abortions. Unsafe abortion is among the common causes of maternal deaths.

Stop reading for a moment and think about the following question from your experience in your community. What other consequences of early pregnancy in adolescent girls can you think of?

In addition to the health risks, early pregnancy has psychological, social and economic consequences for both girls and boys, some of which are presented below.

Last modified: Thursday, 10 July 2014, 8:44 PM