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Vulnerable population: Teenage Pregnancy

Mary Skrypiec
Ferris State University


Vulnerable population: Teenage Pregnancy
Teen pregnancy has been a continual social problem in the United States for many years. The
United States currently holds the highest percentage of pregnancy in youth world-wide (Helfrich,
2014, p. 1322). Between the years 2005 and 2007 there was a 5% increase in pregnant teens
between the ages of 17 and 19 years old (Helfrich, 2014, p. 1322). The increase in teen
pregnancy could be because of genetic and environmental factors. Genetic factors such as race or
ethnicity have been correlated to early initiation of sexual acts (Helfrich, 2014, p. 1322). The
environmental factors include location and economic status (Helfrich, 2014, p. 1322). The
genetic and environmental factors can increase an adolescents chance of becoming part of a
vulnerable population.
Personal Awareness
I have personally seen teen pregnancy by watching fellow classmates in high school
become pregnant. The first classmate became pregnant my junior year. When this female
announced her pregnancy the whole junior class made fun of her by calling her vulgar names,
then began to hate her and finally ignored her at all cost; just because she was pregnant. This is
when my first attitude towards teen pregnancy began. I did not think it was a big deal for her to
be pregnant; it did not change her personal character, but I did wonder how she would ever take
care of an infant. My stereotypical thoughts about teenage pregnancy were that they were just
looking for attention, they did not have any sense of responsibility and were not going anywhere
in life. I never considered how race or location could play a role in the high amounts of teenage
pregnancy in the United States.

The race and location of an adolescent female can make them more likely to be part of a
vulnerable population (Harkness, 2012, p.32). The race or ethnicity of a female adolescent has
been correlated to higher amount of teen pregnancy. The 2007 New York City Youth Risk
Behavior Survey conducted a study in the amount of sexual activity between Caucasians, African
Americans, and Hispanics (Waddell, 2011, p.186). The results were that Caucasians had the
lowest sexual activity with 23.4%, Hispanics in the middle with 32.7% and African Americans in
the highest with 35.4% (Waddell, 2011, p.186). The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found
that in 2011, Hispanic and African-American females between the years of 15 and 19 had the
highest birth rates of 49.6 and 47.3 per 1,000 in the state of Michigan (2013). The location of
where adolescents grow up influences the likely hood of them becoming teenage mothers. When
adolescent females grow up in a family that has low economic status where they need welfare
interventions such as food stamps and Medicare; they are more likely to engage in sexual
activities and substance abuse (Helfrich, 2014, p. 1322). The substance abuse then creates a
window for the adolescent female to make poor decisions engaging in sexual intercourse, having
unprotected sex and having multiple sexual partners (Helfrich, 2014, p. 1322). The knowledge
of how African Americans and Hispanics living in poor community and low economic status can
help nurses create a better patient-nurse relationship.
Teenage pregnancy and health care
The research above shows that African Americans and Hispanics living in poor
communities are more at risk for teen pregnancy. Nursing professionals can use the statistics
above to help teach non-pregnant adolescents that they are more at risk. They can also teach
them ways to prevent pregnancy by using safe contraceptives such as birch control and condoms.
Even though they are more at risk for being a vulnerable population, nurses should never be

biased and assume that they are the only population that will have teenage pregnancy. Nurses
should give the same talk about safe contraceptives to all races and socioeconomic status. When
a nurse in the hospital setting with African American or Hispanic expecting mother, they need to
be supportive of the young mother and not be biased of their situation (Brand, 2014, 175). A
nurse should never tell the patient that they were more at risk for this pregnancy because of their
race or geographic location (Brand, 2014, 175). If a nurse is biased towards a patient they patient
will be less open about how they feel, and have a negative outlook on the pregnancy (Brand,
2014, 175). The nurse needs to be supportive and educate the patient on the best ways to be a
role model to the new infant (Brand, 2014, 175). The nurse needs to give the same care to the
young minority mother as they would an older Caucasian mother (Brand, 2014, 175).
Understanding the vulnerable populations for teenage pregnancy will help nurses find patients to
educate, however they should never treat these young mothers differently.
My opinions after researching
After researching teenage pregnancy I have realized that African American and Hispanics
living in poor communities are more at risk for teenage pregnancy. I live in a middle class,
Caucasian dominant area, so I never realized how much more at risk the monitories are to
teenage pregnancy. I also can see how the can be a continuous trend between families. After my
research, I was happy to find that although teenage pregnancy rates are still high, they have gone
down from previous years. This shows that the health care field is taking the research about
minorities and creating educational opportunities more accessible to them.


Brand, G., Morrison, P., & Down, B. (2014). How do health professionals support pregnant and
young mothers in the community? A selective review of the research literature. Women &
Birth, 27(3), 174-178. http://dx. 10.1016/j.wombi/2014.05.004
Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Prevention status report: Teen pregnancy. (2013). Retrieved
Harkness, G. A., & DeMarco, R. F. (2012). Public health systems. In Community and Public
Health Nursing (1st ed. (p. 32). Philadelphia,PA: Lippincott Williams &Wilkins.
Helfrich, C. M., & McWey, L. M. (2014). Substance use and delinquency: High-risk behaviors
as predictors of teen pregnancy among adolescents involved with the child welfare
system. Journal of Family Issues, 35, 1322-1338.
Waddell, E.N. (2011). New findings on pregnancy. Womens Healthy Magazine. 13(3), 128.