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Teenage pregnancy and abortion have become a global concern with countries making efforts to find sustainable solutions for the high prevalence of the same. According to data from the World Health Organization (WHO), about 21 million girls between the age of 15 and 19 years become pregnant every year. Similarly, another 2 million girls below the age of 15 fall victim to the same circumstance annually (McElroy and Moore, 2018). Making teenage pregnancy a global concern is the risk that the condition subjects this vulnerable population. Globally, complications during pregnancy and the time of delivery are considered the leading cause of death for young girls within the identified age. Other statistics indicate that about 3.9 million girls between the ages of 15 and 19 years, with pregnancy, are subjected to unsafe abortions. Furthermore, adolescent mothers bear a higher risk of puerperal endometritis, eclampsia, and systematic infections compared to their mature counterparts. Given these statistics, this paper aims to analyze the current prevalence of teenage and abortions in the US and evaluate how social structures in the country care about these concerns.
Prevalence in the US
New reports indicate that the rates of pregnancy and abortion in the US have reached a historic low. According to reports from the Office of Adolescent Health (OAH), the rate of teen births in 1991 was 6.2% for female adolescents between 15 and 19 years of age. These figures have improved significantly dropping to 2.4% in the year 2014 (Smith et al., 2018). Comparing the rates across the races in the US, non-Hispanic whites recorded the lowest, while Hispanic and black adolescents had the highest rates. However, despite the improvements, teenage birth rates in the country are still relatively higher than in other developed countries.
Abortion rates have also made a milestone in the US in terms of improvements. About 30% of pregnancies among adolescents aged 15-19 years ended in abortion. This rate is considered the lowest since the act was declared legal by the country’s supreme court in 1973. The government asserted, in a report, that more than 75% of teen pregnancies are unplanned – either unwanted or just occurred too soon (Smith et al., 2018). The government, however, remains hopeful that this state would improve. With teens using birth control more often and waiting longer to engage in sexual intercourse, it is likely to go down.
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According to data from Guttmacher Institute reports, teen pregnancy rates in 2011 is recorded as the lowest in three decades. These reports indicate that the rates drop by a whole 23% between the years 2008 and 2011. The birthrate among the population in 2011 was 31%, translating to about half the figures in 1991. In the same year 2011, abortion rates among non-Hispanic whites were 2.5 higher than the prevalence of the same among Hispanics (Thomas, 2019). Years between 2007 and 2009 also saw an increase in the use of long-term reversible contraceptives among 18- and -19-year-old females in the country.
How Social Structures Care for Pregnant Teenagers
Social structures in the US primarily focus on the various social determinants of health (SDOH) for the identified population. This way, they aim to foster a national movement to address conditions in which teenagers live and eventually give birth. In a report by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM), it is indicated that these structures should create awareness, make adjustments, offer assistance, and alignment, and provide advocacy in an attempt to care for pregnant teenagers (McElroy and Moore, 2018). Awareness in this context implies the need for screening the various SDOH among the population. After identifying these determinants, they are made known to teenagers through the most effective channels like social media platforms.
Adjustment is subjective to the already determined SDOH. Here, the positive determinants are offered due support while the negative ones are resolved. This way, these teenagers get to live in safe social environments as they nurse their pregnancies. Assistance and alignment in the context of care for pregnant teenagers by the various social structures mean the same thing. Here, the structures strengthen social support and redesign health services to meet the special needs of the population. Finally, there is advocacy. Social structures advocates for pregnant teens by making use of the local, state, and federal authorities to support the already existing public health efforts subjective in addressing SDOH to achieve consistency with clinical care within the context of the teenagers (cite). These structures, therefore, offer an immense contribution to the well-being of vulnerable teenagers throughout their life with pregnancy and before.
Teenage pregnancy and abortion are very sensitive issues that should be addressed with utmost care. The world, and the US in particular is making massive efforts towards reducing incidences of teen pregnancy given the risk associated with the same. The trend in the reduction of pregnancies among teenagers in the US is impressive. It is expected to have very low reported cases of teen pregnancies in the foreseeable future. Additionally, the country, through the various social structures is also making immense efforts in caring for the already affected teens to ensure absolute safety during their pregnancies.
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- McElroy, S. W., & Moore, K. A. (2018). Trends over time in teenage pregnancy and childbearing: the critical changes. In Kids having kids (pp. 23-53). Routledge.
- Smith, C., Strohschein, L., & Crosnoe, R. (2018). Family histories and teen pregnancy in the United States and Canada. Journal of Marriage and Family, 80(5), 1244-1258.
- Thomas, A. T. (2019). Teenage pregnancy and long-acting contraception. Journal of Adolescent Health, 65(4), 438-439.