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PREGNANCY DURING ADOLESCENCE
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 be devastating.
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.
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