As you probably already know, if a woman gets pregnant and decides to continue the pregnancy, and if she’s already been taking folic acid, it will reduce her risk of having a baby with some serious birth defects. Before starting our campaign to get the word out about folic acid, we talked to a lot of women. Most told us that they didn’t really want to hear about the pregnancy benefits of folic acid. Especially women who were in their teens and early 20′s. Some even said that talking about pregnancy when they didn’t want to be pregnant made them feel jinxed.
So we were surprised to learn yesterday from Reuters News Service about the results of a new CDC survey. Between 2006 and 2008, researchers held in-person interviews with 1,381 girls and 1,386 boys ages 15 - 19. The last year that they did the survey was 2002. Between 2002 and 2008 youth’s opinions about teen parenthood changed a lot:
- The percentage of male teens who responded “agree” or “strongly agree” with the statement “It is OK for an unmarried female to have a child” rose from 50% in 2002 to 64% in the most recent survey.
- The percentage of teens who said they would be “a little pleased” or “very pleased” if they were to get pregnant or get a partner pregnant was 24% of sexually experienced males and 22% of sexually experienced females.
Being a parent is hard and in today’s economy, it’s also expensive. Being a parent when you’re in your teens and don’t have a lot of resources can be even harder. We know of many women (and some men) who have become parents when they were young and done an incredible job. Take, for example, Kelly Wickham, who had her first baby at age 15 and blogs under the name Mocha Moma. And San Francisco has the Family Service Agency’s Teenage Pregnancy and Parenting Project, a great program that helps young parents.
Still, it’s hard to be a teen mom. Take it from the girls who have appeared in MTV’s top-rated reality show, “16 and Pregnant“. MTV states, “Each of this season’s stories offered a unique look into the wide variety of challenges pregnant teens face, dealing with issues like birth control, adoption, single-parenting, marriage, finances, high school graduation and employment.” If you haven’t seen the show, or have missed some of this year’s segments, you can view all of this seasons episodes by clicking here.
All of that said, the birth rate among San Francisco teen women is about half the national average. So what do you think? Is it OK or not OK to become a parent in your teens? Why do you think the rates are so much lower in San Francisco than in other cities? We’d love to get your opinion!