Miscarriage, also called spontaneous abortion , is the unintentional early ending of pregnancy by а natural cause . Physical problems may occur in the women's body that cause the fetus to die and be expelled from the uterus. Defects in the egg or sperm are another chief cause of miscarriage.Medical treatment before and during pregnancy can prevent many miscarriages from occuring.
Every year ,more than one million American teenage girls become pregnant; 80 percent are not married when they become pregnant; and nearly 30,000 are under age fifteen. More than 50 percent of the babies born to teenage mothers in the United States today are born out of wedlock. Although rates are higher for black teenagers than for white teenagers, U.S. teenagers are twice as likely to become pregnant as Canadian teenagers and four times as likely as Swedish teenagers. There are excessive costs associated with these teen pregnancies: costs to the girls or women themselves, costs to their offspring, and costs to the society at large.
Teenage pregnancy and motherhood are not а "black problem," as many people suppose. The pregnancy rate for black teenagers is higher than that for white teenagers, but most of this difference is related to socioeconomic factors. Black teenagers who come from disrupted families, whose parents did not complete high school, and who live in inner-city ghettos are three times more likely to give birth than are black or white teenagers in better social circumstances. While black teenage pregnancy has declined over the last decade, white teenage pregnancy has increased. The birthrate for white American teenagers is 40 percent higher than that for teenagers in most other industrialized nations. Teenage motherhood is an all-American problem.
Culturally and socially, unwed teenage mothers are "out of step". According to contemporary timetables, the most appropriate time for а women to have her first child is between ages twenty-two and thirty-two. Moreover the transition from adolescence to adulthood ideally occurs in stages: finish school, get а job, get married, and, only then, have а baby. This sequence allows young people to adjust to new roles one at а time. Teenagers who skip these preliminary steps and become mothers first are much less likely to finish school, to work at а job paying more than the minimum wage, or to establish а stable marriage, even at later points in their lives than are other young women.
Why do so many American teenagers become pregnant? Most experts agree that the reason is socialization-or rather а failure in socialization. In Western Europe, adults are more accepting of teenage sexuality. Adolescents are required to take comprehensive sex education courses and are given easy access to free contraceptives. In this country, most parents are reluctant to discuss sexuality and family planning with their adolescents. The average health class devotes ten hours or less to reproduction. If contraception and abortion are discussed, it is usually in senior high-which may be too late. Most parents want schools to offer sex education. But until recently most did not want sex education to include information on birth control, on the grounds that this would encourage young people to become sexually active. Offering teenagers free contraceptives through high school health clinics is still controversial.
As а result, teenagers get most of their informatin-and misinformation-about sex from their friends. Many do not know what time during the menstrual cycle they are likely to get pregnant, where to obtain birth control, or how to use it. Less than half of sexually active teenagers use contraceptives on а regular basis. Almost all are surprised they are pregnant. They tend to think they are "safe" because they are too young to become pegnant, do not have sex often enough,or they simply don't think about the possible consequences.
Indirectly, the mass media may contribute to the problem. Scenes implying sexual intercourse appear nightly on prime time TV. Explicit sexual themes are common in movies, rock music, and advertising. Yet all three major networks refused to broadcast public servicea nonouncements on teenage pregnancy until the summer of 1985. They still reject public education messages on contraceptives.
There are signs of change, however. In part because of the AIDS epidemic, eight out of ten adults now favor including discussions on birth control and sexually transmitted diseases in high school curricula, and five out of ten would introduce these topics in elementary school. Television stations have begun to carry public service announcements that promote the use of condoms as protection against AIDS. The national Parent Teachers Association is now sending information and suggestions on AIDS to its offices all over the country, encouraging them to hold workshops and school meetings on AIDS. It seems doubtful that these measures will cause an immediate or sharp decline in teenage pregnancy, but they are а first step.
Excluding prostitutes and homosexual men, teenagers have the highest rates of sexually transmitted diseases in our population. To date, relatively few cases of adolescents with AIDS have been reported. But one-fifth of all AIDS cases have occured in twenty- to twenty-nine years olds. The average time lapse between infection and the development of AIDS is ten years suggesting that most of these young adults contrasted the virus in late