The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Opinion

April 25, 2014

Editorial: Parents shouldn't have to face teen pregnancy alone

Raising a teenager is a real challenge for any parent. From mood swings to dating to planning for the future, it’s all headaches and heartaches from the moment the kid turns 13 to the day the newly minted adult leaves the nest. By that time, parents can eat most teenage problems for breakfast.

But there are some challenges parents can’t be expected to handle with ease or grace … like when their teens become parents themselves.

Teen pregnancy continues to be a major health issue in Madison County. In 2013, 1,486 teen girls ages 15 to 19 gave birth in the county. With a teen pregnancy rate of 48 births per 1,000 females in that age range, Madison County owns one of the highest rates in Indiana.

Why is teen pregnancy such a concern? Because evidence suggests a pregnant teen sees an increased risk of subsequent pregnancies and contracting a sexually transmitted disease, both of which can have adverse effects of the health of the mother and the community. Pregnant teens are more likely to receive late or no prenatal care, have gestational hypertension and anemia, and achieve poor weight gain. Pre-term delivery and low birthweight, which increase the risk of development delays, illness or death for the child, also are more prevalent.

Pregnancy also causes a massive disruption to the teen’s education and puts an abrupt end to a care-free childhood.

It’s a lot to handle for the teen — and the parents suddenly expecting a grandchild.

Whether they’re delighted or disappointed by their teen’s unexpected news, parents of pregnant teens may feel like there’s nowhere to turn for help. There’s often a social stigma associated with teen pregnancy, and the parents may find themselves without a kind heart to talk to or shoulder to cry on.

Three years ago, Crystal Everhart was there. Her 16-year-old daughter was pregnant, and the soon-to-be grandmother felt horribly alone. She recently turned that experience into a much needed resource in our community.

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