- July/August 2001
- Vol. 2, No. 4
Pediatricians Advised About Treating Adolescent Mothers and Their Children
Nearly half a million babies were born to 15- to 19-year-old females in the United States in 1997. To better address the medical, psychological, developmental, and social problems of adolescent mothers and their children, the American Academy of Pediatricians issued a revised and expanded policy statement for pediatricians in February 2001.
The publication describes problems and challenges particular to adolescent parents and makes 13 recommendations for pediatricians, including the following:
- Ensure that community resources and quality programs are available and used by adolescent parents. These can include competent home visits, sensitive and effective preterm and infant care classes, and quality child care programs.
- Promote breastfeeding by all adolescent mothers.
- Assess the risk of domestic violence before and after pregnancy.
- Stress the importance of the adolescent parent caring for the child even if other adults are involved in the caregiving. These other caregivers need support and education to provide optimal infant development while helping the adolescent to achieve her own developmental milestones.
- Provide contraceptive counseling and services.
The policy statement also presents various models of intervention and support for adolescent parents, which can be facilitated by the pediatrician. These include school-based programs, multidisciplinary and non-school-based programs, peer group and role model programs, and special education initiatives.
Access the revised policy statement online at: http://www.aap.org/policy/re0020.html.
For other related policy statements by the American Academy of Pediatrics, see these past issues of the Children's Bureau Express:
- "Pediatricians Urge Closer Scrutiny of SIDS Cases" (May/June 2001)
- "Pediatricians Advised About Enhancing Brain Development in Young Foster Children" (January/February 2001)
- "Pediatricians Urged: Stay Alert to Link Between Domestic Violence and Child Abuse" (June 2000)
- "Pediatricians Sharpen Focus on Violence Prevention" (April 2000)