An International Perspective on Adolescent Pregnancy

  • Mary E. Dillon
  • Andrew L. Cherry


The purpose of the introductory chapter is to provide an overview of adolescent pregnancy from an international perspective. It is an overview of the response by different countries from around the world to adolescent pregnancy. This overview will also highlight issues related to adolescent pregnancy that are important for a comprehensive understanding of why and how the response and concerns vary from country to country and region to region. What will become evident is that issues, which are a major concern in one country, may not be relevant in another. For instance, child marriage and early adolescent childbirth is not a major concern in countries where religion, tradition, and culture support child marriage even when it may be illegal under the constitutional laws of a particular country. The greatest risks for an adolescent mother and her child are the mother’s age, delaying or failing to receive prenatal care, and the social and political response to her pregnancy. These are critical issues in all countries. In developed countries such as the United States, when pregnant teens are not using prenatal care, the reasons are not related to the lack of available prenatal services; the reasons are more associated with the adolescent’s lack of knowledge, and the humiliation girls must deal with before receiving prenatal care. The numbers in the United States are astonishing. Some 85 % of US teen pregnancies are unplanned, and 72 % of teens receive no prenatal care at all (Holgate, International Journal of Adolescence and Youth, 17, 1–10, 2012). Today’s adolescents are the next generation of parents, workers, and leaders. To fulfill these roles to the best of their ability, these adolescents need the guidance and support of their family, their community, and national and global leaders. They also need governments and a world community that are committed to their health, development, education, and well-being.


Adolescent pregnancy Contraception Maternal and child mortality Moral regulation Sexual behavior Sexual and reproductive health Sexual education Sexual initiation Unintended pregnancies Unsafe abortion 


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Central Florida, School of Social WorkOrlandoUSA

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