How Teenage Pregnancy affects Unborn Baby’s Development

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Sep 14, 2012

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Quick Bites

  • Teen pregnancy affect physical growth of the unborn baby.
  • Babies born to teenage mothers are more likely to be a preemie.
  • Pre-term babies are susceptible to various medical conditions.
  • Low birth weight is other problem seen in babies born to a teenage mother.


Teenage pregnancy not only puts the teenage mothers at risk, but carries a lot of physical and cognitive risks for the babies. Pregnancy at a tender age is likely to gravely affect the physical growth of the unborn baby along with his future development. There is no denial to the fact that a teen mom can give birth to a healthy baby, but it requires precise prenatal care.

negative effects of teenage pregnancyMedical Complications of Teenage Pregnancy –
According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, medical complications are more likely to occur in pregnant teenagers due to inadequate medical care during pregnancy term. Mothers may have medical complications, such as anaemia, toxaemia, high blood pressure and placenta previa during pregnancy, which has a negative impact on the baby’s development. Therefore, proper medical care becomes pivotal to prevent these complications from threatening the baby’s well-being.

Development Issues due to Nutritional Requirement –
Expecting teenagers have more nutritional requirements in comparison with pregnant adults as the former’s body is still developing. Further, a teenager needs to fulfil the nutritional requirement of the unborn baby to prevent additional stress for her body. To provide adequate nourishment for the baby, she needs to eat an extra meal serving. Failure to meet the dietary requirement may affect physical development of the infant.

Prematurity and Mortality – Babies born to teenage mothers are more likely to be a preemie i.e. be born before 40 weeks of normal pregnancy term. Pre-term babies are susceptible to various medical conditions, such as apnoea spells (breathing disorder due to immature brain). Moreover, the rate of infant deaths is higher among babies born to teenage mothers compared with those born to adult mothers.

Other Problems –
Chronic medical problems and low birth weight are other likely problems in babies born to a teenage mother.

Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) – Owing to uncertainty of the future and lack of support during pregnancy, teens may take up unhealthy habits, such as drinking and smoking. Foetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is more likely to affect babies of teen moms and the syndrome is associated with drinking alcohol during pregnancy. After passing through placenta, alcohol may cause potential physical and mental defects. Babies with the syndrome may weigh less than  average babies and may have deformities, such as malformed face, heart problems and mental retardation.

Long-term Complications – Besides medical complications at the time of birth, the baby may also have long-term development concerns. Sometimes, problems during pregnancy and infancy are not identified, but these can come up later. Pre-term babies may find it difficult to learn and think besides facing other cognitive issues.

Read more articles on Pregnancy


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