Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 2, Issue 3, pp 233–249 | Cite as

Adolescents as mothers: An interdisciplinary approach to a complex problem

  • Howard J. Osofsky
  • Joy D. Osofsky
  • Norman Kendall
  • Renga Rajan


Pregnancy among adolescents, and especially among low-income adolescents, represents a high-risk situation from multiple points of view. When compared to data for the population at large, obstetrical outcome is worsened, subsequent educational attainment is poor, social prognosis is guarded, and repeat unwanted pregnancies are common. The surviving infants, similarly have relatively high incidences of medical and developmental problems. In recent years, comprehensive interdisciplinary programs have been organized to offer more meaningful help to these individuals. The present report describes the authors' 5-year experience with one early intensive program. Considerable medical, educational, and social successes have been noted. The results are especially striking when contrasted with the authors' current experience with an improving but still more fragmented and less successful program. Findings concerning infant development and the mother-infant interaction are also noted. Finally, issues related to the achievement of successes and the persistence of problems after provision of more adequate comprehensive services are discussed.


Educational Attainment School Psychology Current Experience Multiple Point Interdisciplinary Approach 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Adams, H., and Gallagher, V. (1963). Some facts and observations about illegitimacy.Children 10: 43–48.Google Scholar
  2. Arnold, C., and Cogswell, B. (1971). A condom distribution for adolescents: The findings of a feasibility study.Am. J. Publ. Health.61: 739–750.Google Scholar
  3. Aznar, R., and Bennett, A. (1961). Pregnancy in the adolescent girl.Am. J. Obstet. Gynecop. 81: 934–940.Google Scholar
  4. Battaglia, F., Frazier, T., and Hellegers, A. (1963). Obstetric and pediatric complications of juvenile pregnancy.Pediatrics 32: 902–910.Google Scholar
  5. Bernstein, R. (1963). Gaps in services to unmarried mothers.Children 10: 49–54.Google Scholar
  6. Birch, H., and Gussow, J. (1970).Disadvantaged Children: Health, Nutrition and School Failure, Harcourt, New York.Google Scholar
  7. Burchinal, L. (1960). School policies and school age marriages.Coordinator 8: 43–48.Google Scholar
  8. Chase, H. (1970). Trends in prematurity: United States, 1950–1967.Am. J. Publ. Health 60: 1967–1978.Google Scholar
  9. Claman, A., and Bell, M. (1964). Pregnancy in the very young teen-ager.Am. J. Obstet. Gynecol. 90: 350–354.Google Scholar
  10. Drillien, C. (1959). A longitudinal study of the growth and development of prematurely and naturally born children. III. Mental development.Arch. Dis. Child. 34: 37–45.Google Scholar
  11. Drillien, C. (1964).The Growth and Development of the Prematurely Born Infant, Williams and Wilkins, Baltimore.Google Scholar
  12. Furstenberg, F. (1971). As cited inMCH Exchange 1(4): 5.Google Scholar
  13. Gordon, M. (1971). Personal communication.Google Scholar
  14. Gordon, S. (1972). Personal communication.Google Scholar
  15. Gutelius, M. (1969). The problem of iron deficiency anemia in preschool Negro children.Am. J. Publ. Health 59: 290–295.Google Scholar
  16. Hassan, H., and Falls, F. (1964). The young primipara: A clinical study.Am. J. Obstet. Gynecop. 88: 256–269.Google Scholar
  17. Herzog, E., and Bernstein, R. (1964).Health Services for Unmarried Mothers, U.S. Children's Bureau, Washington, D.C..Google Scholar
  18. Kelley, J. (1963). The school and unmarried mothers.Children 10: 60–64.Google Scholar
  19. Knobloch, H., and Pasamanick, B. (1966). Medical progress “mental subnormality”.New Engl. J. Med. 2663: 1092–1097.Google Scholar
  20. Knobloch, H., and Pasamanick, B. (1962). Prospective studies on the epidemiology of reproductive casualty: Methods, findings, and some implications.Merrill-Palmer Quart. Behav. Develop. 12: 17–43.Google Scholar
  21. Kovar, M. (1970). Interval from first marriage to first birth: United States 1964–66 births. Unpublished paper for Population Association of America.Google Scholar
  22. Krantz, K. (1965).Ross Round Table on Maternal and Child Nursing, Ross Laboratories, Columbus, Ohio.Google Scholar
  23. Landis, J. T. (1964). Statement for the Asilomar Conference on the Teenage Parent. Sponsored by the Governor's Advisory Committee on Children and Youth, April 1964.Google Scholar
  24. Menken, J. (1972). The health and social consequences of teenage childbearing.Perspectives 4: 45–53.Google Scholar
  25. Mussio, T. J. (1962). Primigravidas under age 14.Am. J. Obstet. Gynecop. 84: 442–444.Google Scholar
  26. NCHS (1971). Infant Mortality Rates by legitimacy status: United States, 1964–1966.Monthly Vital Stat. Rep. 20: 5.Google Scholar
  27. Osofsky, H. (1968a).The Pregnant Teen-ager: A Medical, Educational and Social Analysis, Charles C Thomas, Springfield, Ill.Google Scholar
  28. Osofsky, H. (1968b). On attempting to reach the “unreachable” individual: A progress report of a program for pregnant schoolgirls.Obstet. Gynecol. 32: 869–881.Google Scholar
  29. Osofsky, H., and Kendall, N. (1972). Poverty as a criterion of risk.Clin. Obstet. Gynecol. (in press).Google Scholar
  30. Osofsky, H., and Osofsky, J. (1970). Adolescents as mothers: Results of a program for low-income pregnant teen-agers with some emphasis upon infants' development.Am. J. Orthopsychiat. 40: 825–834.Google Scholar
  31. Osofsky, J., and Osofsky, H. (1972). The psychological reaction of patients to legalized abortion.Am. J. Orthospsychiat. 42: 48–60.Google Scholar
  32. Osofsky, H., Braen, B., DiFlorio, R., Hagen, J., and Wood, P. (1968b). A program for pregnant schoolgirls-A progress report.Adolescence 3: 89–108.Google Scholar
  33. Osofsky, H., Rizk, P., Fox, M., and Mondanaro, J. (1970). Nutritional status of low income pregnant teenagers.J. Reprod. Med. 5: 29–33.Google Scholar
  34. Osofsky, J., Osofsky, H., Rajan, R., and Fox, M. (1971). Psychologic effects of legal abortion.Clin. Obstet. Gynecol. 14(1): 215–234.Google Scholar
  35. Pakter, J., Rosner, H., Jacobziner, H., and Greenstein, F. (1961a). Out-of-wedlock births in New York City. I. Sociologic aspects.Am. J. Publ. Health. 51: 683–696.Google Scholar
  36. Pakter, J., Rosner, H., Jacobziner, H., and Greenstein, F. (1961b). Out-of-wedlock births in New York City. II. Medical aspects.Am. J. Publ. Health. 51: 846–865.Google Scholar
  37. Pakter, J. (1972). Personal communication.Google Scholar
  38. Pasamanick, B. (1959). Research on the influence of sociocultural variables upon organic factors in mental retardation.Am. J. Ment. Defic. 64: 316–322.Google Scholar
  39. Pasamanick, B., and Knobloch, H. (1966). Retrospective studies on the epidemiology of reproductive casualty: Old and New.Merrill-Palmer Quart. Behav. Develop. 12: 7–26.Google Scholar
  40. Polliakoff, S. (1958). Pregnancy in the young primigravida.Am. J. Obstet. Gynecop. 76: 746–753.Google Scholar
  41. Rankin, R. R. (1964). Statement for the Asilomar Conference on the Teenage Parent. Sponsored by the Governor's Committee on Children and Youth, April 1964.Google Scholar
  42. Rashbaum, W., Rehr, H., Paneth, J., and Greenberg, M. (1963). Use of social services by unmarried mothers.Children 10: 11–16.Google Scholar
  43. Sarrel, P. (1970). Personal communication.Google Scholar
  44. Sarrel, P., and Davis, C. (1966). The young unwed primipara: A study of 100 cases with 5 year follow-up.Am. J. Obstet. Gynecol. 95: 722–725.Google Scholar
  45. Semmens, J. (1965). Implications in teen-age pregnancy.Obstet. Gynecol. 26: 77–84.Google Scholar
  46. Stine, O., Rider, R., and Sweeney, E. (1964). School leaving due to pregnancy in an urban adolescent population.Am. J. Publ. Health. 54: 1–6.Google Scholar
  47. Swartz, D. (1971). Personal communication.Google Scholar
  48. Teele, J., Robinson, D., Schmidt, W., and Rice, E. (1967). Factors related to social work services for mothers of babies born out of wedlock.Am. J. Publ. Health 57: 1300–1307.Google Scholar
  49. Vincent, C. (1961).Unmarried Mothers, Free Press, New York.Google Scholar
  50. Wallace, H. (1971). As cited inMCH Exchange 1(4): 4.Google Scholar
  51. Welfare Law Bull. (1968).11: 10–11.Google Scholar
  52. Zackler, J., Andelman, S., and Bauer, F. (1969). The young adolescent as an obstetric risk.Am. J. Obstet. Gynecol. 103: 305–312.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1973

Authors and Affiliations

  • Howard J. Osofsky
    • 1
  • Joy D. Osofsky
    • 1
  • Norman Kendall
    • 1
  • Renga Rajan
    • 1
  1. 1.Temple University Health Sciences CenterPhiladelphia

Personalised recommendations