Teenage pregnancy is
an increasing concern. The nutritional, physical, psychological, social, and
economic demands on a pregnant adolescent are tremendous. With the birth of the
infant, they increase. Young women whoare themselves still in need of nurturing
and financial support are suddenly responsible for helpless newborns. If the
mother does not have sufficient help, the total effect on her and the child can
The young woman may
need prenatal health care, infant care, and psy-chological, nutritional, and
economic counseling, as well as help in locating appropriate housing. And at
this time, the young woman’s family may or may not be supportive.
At such a time,
nutritional habits can seem to some as being of slight importance. They are,
however, of primary importance. An adolescent’s eating habits may not be
adequate to fulfill the nutritional needs of her own grow-ing body. When she
adds the nutritional burden of a developing fetus, both are put at risk.
Adolescents are particularly vulnerable to pregnancy-induced hypertension and
premature delivery. PIH can cause cardiovascular and kid-ney problems later.
Premature delivery is a leading cause of death among newborns. Inadequate
nutrition of the mother is related to both mental and physical birth defects.
These young women will
need to know their own nutritional needs and the additional nutritional
requirements of pregnancy (see Table 11-2). The government-funded WIC (Women,
Infants, and Children) program can help with prenatal care, nutrition
education, and adequate food for the best out-come possible. Pregnant teenagers
will need much counseling and emotional support from caring, experienced people
before nutritional improvements can be suggested.