Teen pregnancy is a deep-seated issue not only for public health professionals in Canada but health professionals around the world. Emerging inclinations in the issue are indispensable indicators of the sexual and reproductive health of young women and their overall well-being in Canada. Public health professionals get a coherent depiction of the intensity of the issue through the available statistics on the prevalence of teenage pregnancies in the nation (McKay, 2012). Studies do indicate however that there is a noticeable decrease in the overall incidence of teen pregnancies in the state and the decline is as a result of the availability of contraceptives and an increase in the awareness of the consequences of engaging in unprotected sex especially with the presence of the AIDS epidemic.
However, recent evidence shows that up to nineteen thousand girls aged between fifteen and nineteen years became mothers while up to twenty thousand girls within the same age bracket procured an abortion. These statistics give a clear indication of the risk that teenagers expose themselves to and the work that it poses to public health officials in the country. There is a record in the decrease of the social stigma that often accompanies having a child out of wedlock, but the risks that come with the issue are insurmountable. Both the mother and child are at a heightened risk of severe health concerns due to the underdeveloped biology of the mother.
Children born to these young mothers are at an increased risk of low birth weight and other birth-related health problems. As a result, these children experience high rates of mortality and other morbidities during their childhood including chronic respiratory conditions, auditory and visual impairment and learning difficulties. The pregnant teens and mothers, on the other hand, are also vulnerable to various health complications including hypertension, eclampsia, depressive disorders, anemia and renal disease. Also, hose teenagers who engage in unprotected sex put themselves at the risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections (Shrim et al., 2011). It means therefore that public health officials, being at the frontline of ensuring a high level of health for every individual in Canada have their work cut out for them in dealing with teen pregnancies and the complications that come with the issue.
It is not only health effects that may result from teenage pregnancies, the girls and the nation at large often suffer economically. All of these girls are still in school, and by getting pregnant, hey curtail their education. It means that there will be fewer women who get educated and gain the skills necessary for the ever-evolving job market thereby reducing the prospects of these young women in the field of employment. A child comes with numerous responsibilities including financial needs like food clothing and much more. However, with the recession that took place in the 1980s and 1990s, there was the need for dual-earning to take care of families and for survival in most households in Canada (Dryburgh, 2000). However, many girls who get children in their teenage years and out of wedlock will remain single mothers thus making it difficult for them to raise their children alone due to the financial constraints.
Current statistics indicate that there are up to four hundred pregnancies reported in girls below fifteen years in Canada. Between fifteen and nineteen years old reports suggest that up to thirty thousand girls test positive for pregnancy. These rates include live births, fetal losses, and induced abortions. Teenage pregnancy rates may be underestimated since there is no specific way of analyzing the total number of miscarriages (Darroch, Singh, & Frost, 2001). Only a few women who miscarry get treatment in hospitals, others get help in outpatient settings which are not available in the hospital morbidity database. More teenage pregnancy ended in a live birth than an abortion in the past. However, the trend is declining from live birth to abortion which is becoming the most common practice among the teenagers (McKay & Barrett, 2010). Earlier before in Canada, women who choose to terminate their pregnancy had no legal means until later between 1969 and January 1988 when abortion was lawfully legal.
In Canada, the ability to use and get contraception or become sexually active depends on many factors. These factors include knowledge, attitudes and beliefs, substance use and future expectation. They can also be of the categories of the interfamilial level and extra-familial level. Intra-familial level includes family structure, parent-child communication, and socioeconomic status. The extra-familial level is peer influence, sexual health education at school and health services (Al-Sahab et al., 2012). Some of the factors like personal knowledge about sexual health are readily modified, but others are not easy to change.
Public health officers and physicians should lobby for initiatives aimed at changing social risk behaviors among teens. These will include enhancing social education at schools. When administering social or clinical services to youths, public health professionals should provide appropriate sexual health information and services in their practice. They also must recognize that teenagers are sexually active. Most teenagers usually have sexual intercourse by the end of their high school period (Fleming, Tu, & Black, 2012).
As part of physicals general inquiry, they should interview teenagers on their sexual activities, use of condoms, contraception and also on their history of sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy. The need for other forms sexual health information is also critical (Saewyc et al., 2008). Sexual health discussion should not only by adolescents whom the process of seeking sexual health lessons is a difficult one, and therefore public health officers should be at the foremost in making some of these inquiries on behalf of the adolescents.
As mentioned before, many of the teenage girls who get pregnant resort to abortion. Previously a high number of these pregnancies resulted in live births. However, there was a noticeable decrease in live births while the ra4es of abortion increased among teenage girls. There was a noticeable difference in the prevalence of abortion in the top three most populous provinces in Canada i.e. Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia with these regions influencing, to a large degree the rates of abortion among teenage girls at the national level (Norman, 2012). It is an indication that from time immemorial the tasks public health practitioners have especially in dealing with teenage pregnancies and all the responsibilities concerning the girls health continue to increase. It, therefore, calls for individuals in this profession to be diligent especially when working with these girls.
It is a current issue in the health care system of Canada and with the available evidence; one could conclude that it may not be one that sees an end anytime soon. Prevention, in particular by the public health officers and parents, is paramount but it may not always be confident that these girls will abstain from sex. Contraception makes a significant difference, but it is not always sure that every teenage girl will consider the use of contraceptives while sexually active for prevention of pregnancy (Fleming et al., 2013). The effort of the public health sector in dealing with teenage pregnancies and abortion is visible especially with the reduced number of pregnancies and abortions comparing with previous years. It is, therefore, clear that girls are getting the appropriate sex education that is working to a given extent in curtailing teenage pregnancies. However, it may not necessarily be a one hundred percent success story. There is still a lot to be done and especially for the public health practitioner.
They have the responsibility of ensuring that the pregnancies are detected early in the case that the girls get pregnant which cannot be ruled out. Early detection helps in the exposure of the young girls to the various possible options and also allows for the initiation of prenatal care if the girls choose to keep the pregnancy. Evidence indicates that prenatal care that is poor is the primary cause of complications for young women between the age of fifteen and nineteen who are pregnant (Black, Fleming, & Rome, 2012). There still exists some level of stigma that comes with being a pregnant teenager and having a child out of wedlock. It poses a difficulty for early detection where the young women will in most instances deny being pregnant. They may even have not accepted the possibility of pregnancy to themselves. These factors and many others often make it difficult for the teenagers to address the issue of gestation openly. Knowledge and information, especially from public health professionals, make it a bit easy for the girls to see the significance of early detection thereby taking options they feel are more comfortable for them and identifying ectopic pregnancies.
As significant healthcare providers, public health practitioners have several roles, especially when dealing with teenagers who turn out to be pregnant. Their primary concern during the initial stages of interaction with the teen should be an inquiry into the emotional and physical effects the pregnancy is having on the girl. The professional is also expected to identify the knowledge concerning the options the teenager has from her. The well-being of the young woman is often paramount, and any factors that may play a role in her situation including cultural family or community issues need to be explored. There is also the need to discuss the opinion of the teenagers partner when appropriate and the role the partner plays in the teens decision-making process (Jack et al., 2012). A support system is paramount in the young womans life especially because she is experiencing something that may be new to her or which may be causing a significant amount of distress on the teenager. Therefore the public health officer needs to establish the level of support the girl has to ensure that she a place to lean on when she goes back to society. There is a need for an assessment of any health complications in the teenager, an evaluation for substance abuse or other risk behaviors she may be engaged in and a review of the girls academic and personal goals, her school, and housing status.
As a public health officer, there is the need to provide information on the various options the teenager has concerning the pregnancy and the baby. These girls are often in distress at such a time, and there should be no rush into making a decision. They, however, have the option of either keeping the pregnancy or an abortion which is allowed in Canada. For those who choose to maintain the pregnancy, they may opt to give the baby up for adoption once its born. Some may choose adoption but once the baby is born they may change their mind (McKay, 2012).
Whatever option the teenager goes for, the public health practitioner needs to give the appropriate information and support for the youth while still considering her overall well-being. Counseling is necessary for these girls despite the option they choose. For those who opt for termination of the pregnancy they need to be aware of the various procedures, get referrals to the appropriate medical services and be prepared for the emotions that come with the termination including grief, anger or relief. They should also be aware of the consequences that may result from these procedures including excessive bleeding, emotional concerns, pain and much more (Kim, Connolly, & Tamim,...
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