Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The teen pregnancies you don't hear about

It seems to me that with all that has been written and said about Sarah Palin's teenage daughter being pregnant, an important fact is being left out. Namely, Bristol Palin's baby is one of the lucky ones. The child is going to be born into a stable situation with not only parents, but grandparents committed to his or her welfare. The Palin family also has the financial resources to assure the kid's well-being.

Babies born to the typical teenager? Not so fortunate. According to this article, in 2006, one hundred thirty nine thousand girls in the United States, ages fifteen through seventeen, gave birth. And often the infants don't get a very good start in their young lives:

"Pregnant teens aged 15 to 19 are less likely to get prenatal care and gain appropriate weight, experts say. They are also more likely smoke than pregnant women aged 20 years or older...

"'The numbers also say something about the health of these teenagers' children, who are more likely to have a low birth weight,' said Sondik, which is a 'cause of concern.'

"Low birth weight infants, defined as less than 5 pounds 8 ounces, are at increased risk for infant death and such lifelong disabilities as blindness, deafness and cerebral palsy. The report also showed an overall increase in low birth weight infants."

I'm sure over the next few days we'll continue to hear much talk about whether Bristol Palin's pregnancy is a political liability or not, or whether it's even fair for the media to address the subject. But it certainly would be beneficial if all of us would pause for a moment to think of the staggering teen pregnancy figures, and to pray with all our hearts for the health and security of those other 138,999 babies. Infants born in America deserve love and caring, whether their mom is a thirty-five year old with a six figure salary or a fifteen year old who's feeling lonely and scared.

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