The most recent report on Australia’s Children by the Australian Institute of Health & Welfare makes the following key findings on teenage mothers.
- In 2017, births to teenage mothers made up 2.2% of all live births.
- Births to teenage mothers decreased by more than 40% between 2006 and 2017 from 17.6 to 9.2 live births per 1,000 females aged 15–19.
Motherhood for women under the age of 20 can be a positive and maturing experience. For many young people, becoming a parent can have a transformative impact, particularly with changing unhealthy behaviours and relationships (AHRC 2017; Rhys Price-Robertson 2010).
Recent findings also show some positive birth outcomes for teenage mothers compared with mothers aged 20–24 with teenage mothers:
- more likely to have a spontaneous labour (and less likely to have a caesarean section)
- less likely to have diabetes
- less likely to have gestational diabetes (AIHW 2018).
However, mothers who give birth under the age of 20 are also a vulnerable population group, who may experience lower education and reduced employment. This may increase the risk of socioeconomic disadvantage for both child and mother (Marino et al. 2016). Children of vulnerable young parents are also at risk of becoming teenage parents themselves (Gaudie et al. 2010; Marino et al. 2016).
Teenage motherhood is associated with a number of poorer health and wellbeing outcomes for both mother and baby. In the short-term, babies born to teenage mothers are at greater risk of being born pre-term, with a low birthweight, stillbirth and neonatal death (AIHW 2018; Marino et al. 2016). Children of teenage mothers may go on to have behavioural, emotional and cognitive disadvantages (Marino et al. 2016). Depression is more prevalent among pregnant teenagers than adult pregnant women or teenagers in general, and teenage motherhood can have a long-lasting effect on mental health (Marino et al. 2016).
See here for more and to download the report