SAN DIEGO -- Pregnant teenage girls in a poor Hispanic neighborhood in Denver were generally happy as clams about having a baby, investigators reported here.
SAN DIEGO, May 10 -- Pregnant teenage girls in a poor Hispanic neighborhood in Denver were generally happy as clams about having a baby, investigators reported here.
A survey of 100 pregnant girls, ages 14 to 19 and mainly unmarried, found that the teens had access to birth control, knew about it, but none were using it, said Terry Dunn, M.D., of the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver.
"In our population, the pregnancy was usually intended," she said at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists meeting.
In Dr. Dunn's study, the teens who were surveyed came from low income, poverty level homes, most often single-parent households where there was a low level of education.
Among the patients, there were 13 19-year-olds, 34 18-year-olds, 19 17-year-olds, 20 16-year-olds, 17 15-year-olds and seven 14-year-olds.
When the mothers-to-be were asked questions regarding their self-image, 93% said they thought that having a baby would make their life better.
Overall, 81% of the teenagers said they were happy about having a baby -- and 34 said they desired becoming a mother "a great deal." In the survey, 82 of the pregnant teenagers were not married.
All but four of the teenagers said that before they became pregnant they considered themselves "a happy person."
According to Colorado Vital Statistics, there were 44.5 birth per 1,000 teens age 15 to 19 in 2002, and 70% of the births were unintended.
"In this indigent Hispanic population, pregnancy was not undesired," Dr. Dunn said. "Although teens did not feel they were the ideal age for pregnancy, they did not classify their pregnancy as unintended."
Sina Haeri, M.D., chief resident in obstetrics and gynecology at the Washington Hospital Center in Washington, commented that he had seen similar attitudes among his teenaged pregnant patients -- and their families.
"I remember just recently assisting as a 10-year-old girl gave birth with the baby's 13-year-old father and members of both families cheering the delivery," he said. "We see this attitude all the time among the girls who are 10, 11, 13, who are about to become mothers. Unfortunately the number of pregnant young teenagers we see is increasing, going in the wrong direction."
Dr. Haeri reported on births of nearly 500 children delivered by teenage mothers -- some of whom came in from prenatal visits in very later stages of pregnancy.
"Remarkably, we found that there were no differences in outcomes if these teenagers sought medical help early or late in pregnancy," he said.
Sharon Phelan, M.D., of the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, said that she was not surprised by the Denver report. "I think this shows the types of magical thinking that goes on among teenagers."