continues to be a major
concern the world over. An early unplanned pregnancy could have several
physical, emotional and social implications on the teenage mother and the baby.
It could result in early dropping out of school or college, and worsen the
financial situation of the family. It could also affect the health of the mother
and the baby. Increased awareness of birth control
and including the family in the sex education
of the teenager
could help to reduce adolescent pregnancies.
‘Teenage girls should be screened for pregnancy as a routine before any tests or treatment that could harm the unborn child.’
Pregnant teenagers face another problem -
doctors may prescribe medications or tests without expecting them to be
pregnant and therefore enquiring about the same. Such medications and tests
could be harmful to the unborn baby.
Researchers at the
University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine and The Children's
Hospital of Philadelphia conducted a study to evaluate if adolescent female
cancer patients with a type of blood cancer called acute leukemia were screened
for pregnancy before they received chemotherapy
. Chemotherapy includes medications that are
used to treat cancers. Cancer treatment with either chemotherapy or radiation
therapy can be harmful to the fetus.
The girls in the study were in the age group
of 10 to 18 years. This group of girls were compared to other girls who were
admitted to the emergency room and underwent computed tomography (CT scan) of
the abdomen and pelvis. Girls undergoing radiological tests were usually
screened for pregnancy according to established protocols.
Adolescent Pregnancy - Statistics
- Screening for pregnancy in
adolescent girls who underwent treatment for a type of leukemia called
acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) was much lower as compared to the girls
who underwent abdominal or pelvic CT scan
- There was no significant
difference between the percentage of girls screened for pregnancy between
those suffering from another type of leukemia called acute myeloid
leukemia (AML) and those admitted to the emergency room for a CT scan.
- The patterns of screening for
pregnancy varied widely among hospitals.
The researchers therefore advocate the need for standardized pregnancy
screening practices for adolescent girls being treated for cancer to prevent
inadvertent damage to the developing fetus
- Every year, about 16 million girls
aged 15 to 19 years and some 1 million girls under 15 years give birth in
low and middle income countries
- Some 3 million girls aged 15 to 19
years of age undergo unsafe abortions
- Babies born to adolescent mothers
face a higher risk of dying than those born to women aged 20 to 24 years
- CANCER Journal
- About Teen Pregnancy - (http://www.cdc.gov/teenpregnancy/about/)