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Teenage pregnancy: do nurses know how to respond?

Nurses are the ‘first port of call’ in such cases, writes Joanna Nichols. But do you know what to do when asked?

Teenage pregnancy is often a very emotive subject. The media image of pregnant teenagers and young parents can be very negative, promoting the idea that young people become pregnant for financial reasons or for want of a responsible attitude. In reality, this is seldom true and the picture is far more complex.

For many young parents the decision to become pregnant is not taken lightly. Their parenting, though perhaps more challenging than for older parents, is no less caring and effective. Sadly, this is not the experience for all young parents and their children. A number of negative outcomes for teenage parent families have been identified (see Box 1).1 As well as the difficulties faced by teenage parents, many young people become pregnant without intending to be and do not continue their pregnancies. Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that in 2015 almost 50% of under 18 pregnancies ended in termination. Risk factors for teenage pregnancy include poor school experience, low educational attainment, bullying and domestic violence, use of alcohol and spending time in local authority care.

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