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Teenage
pregnancy is a huge problem that the United States faces today. Amongst other
countries the United States has the highest rates of teen pregnancy (Ayadi,
Kuo, Adams &

Gavin, 2010; Minnick
& Shandler, 2011). In the year 2015 the Center for Disease Control &
Prevention (CDC) reported that the birth rate was twenty two point three per
thousand for young women ages 15-19 (“Teen Pregnancy in the United States”,
2017). It also stated that of births to single women were to teenage mothers in
2009 (Ayadi et al., 2010). 14 million babies are born worldwide each year to
mothers between ages 15 and 19 (United Nations Children’s Fund UNICEF, 2008).
Teenage motherhood is a topic that has been researched vigorously over the past
3 decades (Hurd & Zimmerman, 2010). It has been established as a social
problem in the country, and prevention measures are needed (McKay &
Barrett, 2010).

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Teenage
motherhood is very evident and indisputably seen throughout our nation’s history.
In the early days of civilization it was seen as normal for teens starting at
the age of 14 to be married and with children; it was not frowned upon like it
is now in today’s society. Throughout history though the rates of teen pregnancy
has been up and down going back and forth between high numbers and low numbers.
According to Mollborn (2010) for decades teen pregnancy has always been seen as
a problem. Currently teenage motherhood is lower in the United States than they
were compared to teenage motherhood in the 60’s and 70’s. Even though teenage
motherhood is lower, it is said that now in today’s generation teenagers are
very much likely to have children out of wedlock (Eshbaugh, 2008).

The
meanings of teenage pregnancy are not the different from one individual person
or study to another. UNICEF defines teenage pregnancy as a girl between the
ages of 13 and 19 becoming pregnant. This term also means a girl that is still
young, who hasn’t reached the maturity of adulthood to become pregnant, with adulthood
being defined differently all over the world (2008). While most studies use
this definition, others define teenage pregnancy as a pregnant female between
the ages of 15 and 19 or 15 and 20 (Ayadi et al., 2010; McKay & Barrett,
2010; Mollborn, 2010).

The
likelihood of a teenager becoming pregnant can be due to a number of
influencing factors. One of those factors being that teen moms now have grown
up in poverty or low income with little to no access to a good education or
good employment; it is seen at the norm in that environment (Hurd &
Zimmerman, 2010; Lopoo, 2011). Teenage motherhood is also more accustomed among
the minority populations (Lopoo, 2011). It is said that this is because certain
minority groups don’t have sanctions against teen pregnancy (Mollborn, 2010).

Teens
may also become pregnant because they do not have the proper education and   information
on sexual health/pregnancy prevention or they may have none at all. It is
presumed that the most of teenage pregnancies are unexpected and accidental
(McKay & Barrett, 2010). Majority of schools tend to use abstinence- only
education and only educate about contraceptive failure. Another thing to
consider is the parents, some parents may be giving their teen the wrong information
because they may have been taught wrong or they may just find it hard and
uncomfortable to talk about so they won’t say anything at all to correct what
their teen think is true about sex and pregnancy. Teens also get the wrong idea
about sex through the media because even though it portrays sex heavily it
rarely portrays the bad side effects of having sex such as STD’s/ STI’s, and
pregnancy nor does it talk about ways prevent such side effects which gives
teen incomplete information about sex.(Hust, Brown & L’Engle, 2008).

It
is more likely that pregnant teens and teen moms develop mental health problems
due to the struggles they may have to endure. Since most teen moms get little
to no support from family/friends and have limited resources, on top of demands
and responsibilities that are going to increase once the baby comes it is more
than likely that they will suffer from psychological distress (Hurd &
Zimmerman,2010). The likelihood of maternal depression for all ages is between
14 and 23 percent. Having depression during pregnancy will put the mother and
baby at risk, which can result in serious birth complications and also bring
forth a miscarriage thereby putting more mental/emotional stress on a young
teen mom (Mirsanjari,MananWanMuda, Ahmad, Othman, Saat & Mirsanjari, 2011).

Teen
pregnancy and motherhood is still a huge issue that the United States is faces
today. Teen pregnancy throughout history has changed but not by that much. I
feel that it is still an issue and it can and will inevitably alter a person’s lifestyle
which in turn changes their life outcomes. As stated before teenage parents may
face mental health issues because of the struggles that come with becoming a
parent as a teenager during and after the pregnancy. Some studies have found that
there are a number of things that can impact pregnant teens and teen moms,
including background/environment, culture norms, social support, sex education
and sexual media content. Even though teenage pregnancy rates are decreasing, the
U.S. teen pregnancy rate is substantially higher than in other western
industrialized nations, and racial/ethnic and geographic disparities in teen
birth rates persist (“Teen Pregnancy in the United States”, 2017) meaning it is
evident that it is still a large issue that requires attention.

There
are many ways research can be done on teenage pregnancy. Some studies on teen
pregnancy are likely to use non-probability sampling (Hust et al., 2008; Minnick
& Shandler, 2011; Shanok & Miller, 2007). Most studies that I read
about used pre-experimental pilot study designs or quasi-experimental designs
(Logsdon & Myers, 2010; Shanok & Miller, 2007).

Studies measuring mental
health during or after pregnancy used very similar instruments that include
self-report questions with a Likert scale. (Hurd & Zimmerman, 2010; Lopoo,
2011;

Mirsanjari et al., 2011).
Many of these studies are not sound because they did not discuss the reliability
and validity of their instrument. There is a trend in the research of using
secondary analysis.(Ayadi et al., 2012; Eshbaugh, 2008; Lopoo, 2011; McKay
& Barrett, 2010). Most studies used some type of statistical analysis of
the data collected for the study (Eshbaugh, 2008; Logsdon & Myers, 2010;
Lopoo, 2011; Mirsanjari et al., 2011). Almost all studies on teenage pregnancy and
motherhood/parenthood presented the results in table format (Ayadi et al.,
2012; Logsdon & Myers,2010; McKay & Barrett, 2010). Studies on teenage
pregnancy and motherhood have made clear their findings to uncover a great deal
of significant information with important implications for social work.

Even
though there is momentous amounts of research of on teen pregnancy and motherhood,
there are areas that need to be further analyzed. Studies on mental health
issues and teenage pregnancy and motherhood are vastly conducted in low-income,
urban areas. This leaves a huge gap because research should also be conducted
in research conducted high-income areas, suburban areas and rural areas. There
is also a gap  research that focuses on
depression as a potential outcome in teen pregnancy because most studies focuses
on all mental health issues or postpartum depression only. Future research
should be conducted to examine depression in pregnant teenagers and teenage
mothers to gain a better understanding of the issue. In the next few paragraphs
I propose a method on how I would conduct research on this topic.

Conceptual Framework

The
hypothesis’s for this study is that the depression rate in teenagers who are
not pregnant and have no children will be lower than teens that are pregnant
and have children. Teenage pregnancy is the independent variable for this study.
Depression is the dependent variable for this study. For this study teen pregnancy
is seen as females that a between the ages of 14-19 and are pregnant at that
very moment. Depression is defined as a medical condition resulting in feelings
of sadness and loss of interest. Other symptoms of depression include
irritability, reduction in sex drive, appetite changes, restlessness, anger,
fatigue, trouble thinking, frequent’ thoughts of death, crying spells, and
unexplained physical problems (Depression,2012).

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