OBJECTIVE. We sought to enhance our understanding of pregnant adolescents’ concepts of the advantages and disadvantages of teen pregnancy and childbearing.

METHODOLOGY. This is a qualitative study of 247 pregnant adolescents recruited during their first prenatal health care visit to a women's primary care clinic in Providence, Rhode Island. Participants responded in writing to open-ended questions assessing their ideas about what was advantageous and disadvantageous about having an infant during their teen years rather than waiting until they were older. Themes and patterns in responding were coded, and subgroup differences based on age, ethnicity, intendedness of current pregnancy, and pregnancy/parenting history were assessed.

RESULTS. Themes related to advantages of teen pregnancy included enhancing connections, positive changes/benefits, and practical considerations. Themes related to disadvantages included lack of preparedness, changes/interference, and others’ perceptions. Differences among groups based on age, ethnicity, intendedness of the current pregnancy, and pregnancy/parenting history were examined and noted.

CONCLUSIONS. Pregnant adolescents do not represent a homogeneous group. Considering differences in how pregnancy and childbearing are conceptualized along developmental, cultural, attitudinal, and experiential lines will strengthen our ability to tailor pregnancy-prevention messages.

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