Teenage Pregnancy

pregnancy

pregnancy, period of time between fertilization of the ovum (conception) and birth, during which mammals carry their developing young in the uterus (see embryo). The average duration of pregnancy in humans is about 280 days, equal to 9 calendar months. After the fertilized ovum is implanted in the uterus, rapid changes occur in the reproductive organs of the mother. The uterus becomes larger and more flexible, enlargement of the breasts begins, and alteration of renal function, blood volume, and blood cell count occur. Movement of the fetus and fetal heartbeat can be detected early in pregnancy.

One test that has been used to determine pregnancy uses blood or urine samples to detect a hormone known as BhCG, found exclusively in pregnant women. Later, prenatal diagnostic tests such as alpha fetoprotein, amniocentesis, and chorionic villus sampling may be performed as screening measures for congenital defects. Ultrasound, a sonar device using high-frequency wavelengths, is used to detect defects, measure fetal heartbeat, and monitor growth of a fetus.

Complications of pregnancy include eclampsia, premature birth, and erythroblastosis fetalis (Rh incompatibility). Ectopic pregnancy, in which the fetus begins to develop outside the uterus, often in a fallopian tube, is another complication. It is often the result of scarring from a sexually transmitted disease. Smoking has been linked to low–birth weight infants; alcohol consumption during pregnancy has been linked to a group of defects called fetal alcohol syndrome.

The technology relating to pregnancy has made great advances and has created a number of ethical issues. Many women in their 40s are now able to sustain successful pregnancies, due to technological devices that carefully monitor the progress of the fetus. In vitro fertilization and other infertility treatments have allowed even postmenopausal women to give birth. The use of fertility drugs has led to a marked increase in multiple births. Abortion, in which pregnancy is terminated prior to birth, has long been a subject of heated debate, and surrogate motherhood (see surrogate mother) has also raised ethical issues in recent years.

See also amenorrhea; birth defects; midwifery.

See J. T. Queenan and C. N. Queenan, ed. A New Life (1992); C. A. Bean, Methods of Childbirth (1990);; Boston Women's Health Book Collective, Our Bodies, Ourselves for the New Century (1998).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Adolescent Pregnancy: Policy and Prevention Services
Naomi Farber.
Springer, 2003
The Critical Link: Preventing Teen & Unplanned Pregnancy
Brown, Sarah.
Policy & Practice, Vol. 68, No. 2, April 2010
Teen and Non-Marital Childbearing
Kearney, Melissa S.
NBER Reporter, Vol. 2009, No. 1, Spring 2009
Teenage Pregnancy Prevention and Adolescents' Sexual Outcomes: An Experiential Approach
Somers, Cheryl L.
American Secondary Education, Vol. 34, No. 2, Spring 2006
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Keepin' It Real and Relevant: Providing a Culturally Responsive Education to Pregnant and Parenting Teens
Roxas, Kevin.
Multicultural Education, Vol. 15, No. 3, Spring 2008
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
One Nation, Underprivileged: Why American Poverty Affects Us All
Mark Robert Rank.
Oxford University Press, 2004
Librarian’s tip: "Preventing Teenage Pregnancy" begins on p. 224
Explaining Teen Childbearing and Cohabitation: Community Embeddedness and Primary Ties*
Houseknecht, Sharon K.; Lewis, Susan K.
Family Relations, Vol. 54, No. 5, December 2005
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Many Issues Converge in Teenage Pregnancy. (beyond Abstinence Promotion)
Sherman, Carl.
Clinical Psychiatry News, Vol. 31, No. 7, July 2003
Depression and Repeat Pregnancy in Teen Mothers
Mahoney, Diana.
Clinical Psychiatry News, Vol. 36, No. 4, April 2008
Handbook of Pediatric Psychology
Michael C. Roberts.
Guilford Press, 2005
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 39 "Sexual Behaviors and Problems of Adolescents"
Methamphetamine Use Is Independently Associated with Recent Risky Sexual Behaviors and Adolescent Pregnancy
Zapata, Lauren B.; Hillis, Susan D.; Marchbanks, Polly A.; Curtis, Kathryn M.; Lowry, Richard.
Journal of School Health, Vol. 78, No. 12, December 2008
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Making the Best of a Bad Situation: Material Resources and Teenage Parenthood
Mollborn, Stefanie.
Journal of Marriage and Family, Vol. 69, No. 1, February 2007
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Update on Adolescent Pregnancy in the Black Community
Bryant, Kellie D.
ABNF Journal, Vol. 17, No. 4, Fall 2006
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Welfare Reform and Teenage Pregnancy, Childbirth, and School Dropout
Hao, Lingxin; Cherlin, Andrew J.
Journal of Marriage and Family, Vol. 66, No. 1, February 2004
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Handbook of Social Work Practice with Vulnerable and Resilient Populations
Alex Gitterman.
Columbia University Press, 2001 (2nd edition)
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 11 "Adolescent Pregnancy"
Looking for a topic idea? Use Questia's Topic Generator