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1. Introduction

These
days, teenage pregnancy is a social problem and an important public health
problem in Vietnam. According to Vietnam
maternal and child health care apartment, the percentage of teenagers who have
got pregnant has increased over the period: in
2011: 3,1%; in 2012: 3,2% (Mai,
2014). Moreover,
it leads to many serious results including abortion. In 2011, abortion rates in
teen mothers was quite high, at 2,4% in total pregnant women then this figure
declined to 2,3% in 2012 (Mai, 2014). Teenage pregnancy
results from numerous risk factors and also brings a variety of effects
including physical and mental ones (Kirby, Lepore & Ryan,
2005). However, a majority of
teenagers as well as their parents are totally not aware of this dangerous
phenomenon. Therefore, this paper, based on secondary data, will provide
information on the risk factors, the effects and possibly solutions to teenage
pregnancy in Vietnam.

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2. Discussion of findings

2.1. What are the risk factors of teenage pregnancy?

Numerous research has
been carried to find out many factors which are associated with teenage
pregnancy.

First of all, a clear link has been established between social backgrounds and
early childbearing. It is suggested that young women from socially
disadvantaged family backgrounds characterized by poverty, early motherhood and
low parental education are at higher risk of being pregnant in their teen years
of age (Shapiro, & Miller, 1998; as cited in Woodward, Fergusson &
Horwood, 2001). In addition, family contributed a major role in the unintended
pregnancy among young women. For example, teenagers who live far away from
home, have problematic relationships with their parents or go through a marital
breakdown are more likely to become mothers at a very young age. Besides,
parents nowadays are still unwilling to speak openly about sex, especially
sexual behaviors and contraception (Kanku & Mash, 2010). Therefore,
teenagers are lack of background knowledge about sex and unable to protect
themselves from pregnancy.

Second, a number of
individual factors increase the possibility of early pregnancy and parenthood. Early-maturing girls have a tendency to get pregnant at their
teen years
than others. Aggressive
or antisocial young women are at an increased risk of teenage pregnancy (Woodward, Fergusson & Horwood, 2001). Likewise, there is
considerable evidence that rates of pregnancy at young ages are related to drug
users, with findings of a large proportion of teenagers who become early
mothers had a prior history of overusing drugs as well as alcohol.

2.2. What are the effects of teenage pregnancy?

Teenage pregnancy can
bring many serious problems to teen mothers. When they know they are pregnant,
there are two options for them to choose. If they choose abortion, it can cause
many problems such as infection, perforation of the uterus and the most serious
problem – infertility. If they decide to marry and give birth,
they will have to stop studying in high schools, universities or colleges. Teen mothers are less likely to
finish their study than those who avoid being pregnant during their school
years. As a consequence, they cannot find a suitable job to earn money and
support their children. It is possibly that teen mothers will have to deal with
financial problems or even domestic violence. Therefore, they are easily suffer
from stress, depression which is harmful to their health and their babies. When women give birth in their teen years, they are at
risk of giving birth prematurely (Beirne, 2017). Teenagers, especially those
under 15 years old are vulnerable to anemia, also called low blood iron. Anemia
can make the mothers feel tired or cause some complications. During pregnant
period and laboring, complications is the second most popular cause of death in
teenagers 15-19 years old (Socolov et al., 2017).

Another effect of
teenage pregnancy is related to the physical health of the children along with
their future development. A preemie, who is born before 37
completed weeks of pregnancy will miss out on an important growth taking place in the final weeks
of pregnancy. As a result, the children may become underweight. Those
underweight babies are likely to suffer from several problems that can affect
their brain and their organs (Beirne, 2017). Besides, the children who were
born to these teenage mothers also experience 2.5 times higher risk of losing
their lives than those born to women aged between 20 and 24 (Socolov et al., 2017). On
the other hand, owing to
uncertainty of the future and lack of support during pregnancy, teens may take
up unhealthy habits, such as drinking and smoking which is really harmful to
their health and their baby. Foetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is more likely to
affect babies of teen moms and the syndrome is associated with drinking alcohol
during pregnancy (Sharma, 2012). Sometimes, problems during pregnancy and
infancy are not identified, but these can come up later. Pre-term children can have
difficulties in learning and thinking and their development can be much slower
than normal ones.

2.3. What are the solutions?

There are much that can be done to
protect teenagers from pregnancy. Firstly, schools as well as universities
should provide adequate sexuality education
including contraception,
sexual abuse and so on by making use of the media, especially the Internet.
This solution can help students have more useful information about protecting
themselves. It also can encourage responsible behavior, increase the use of contraception. Health service providers have sought to provide birth control
services to young people, seeing use of contraceptives as potentially the most
successful intervention in pregnancy prevention (Howard, 2014). Therefore,
teenagers can effectively prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) during
their teenage years when most young
people become sexually curious.

Secondly, Vietnam government should plan different youth
development programs to support teenagers because research
have showed that youth development programs can reduce sexual risk behaviors
and teenage pregnancy (Kirby, 1999). These programs assist
teenagers to set their goals, finish study and plan their futures. As Pagliaro & Klindera
(1999) say:

Youth development seldom tackles isolated problems—such as sexual risk
behaviors—but focuses instead on providing holistic support and opportunities
for young people. Youth development is a strategy that attempts to meet the
needs young people themselves identify: to have life skills, to be cared for
and safe, to be valued and useful, and to be spiritually grounded. It meets
these needs by building on young people’s capacities, assisting them to
cultivate their own talents and to increase their feelings of self-worth, and
easing their transition to adulthood.

Thirdly,
making contraception available to teenagers is another solution to teenage pregnancy.
Confidential, affordable and accessible contraceptive services may ensure that teens will have
what they need to protect themselves. As a result, there could be a decline in
the number of unintended pregnancy cases as well as infection with HIV ones.

Final thing that we can
do to protect teenagers is supporting them. Society need to be concern about
family communication
about sex. Parents should
speak about sexual behaviors openly to provide their kids with appropriate information
about it. Moreover, educational opportunities, health education about parenting
skills and other supports should be well-prepared for teens while pregnant and
after birth so they can have a better life.  

3. Conclusion

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