Teenage Pregnancies

The arrival of a new born child can be a wonderful occasion for a family.

Those moments when the baby smiles for the first time, says its first word and makes its first footsteps can bring a real sense of joy.  

But coping with a new born baby and accepting the challenge and responsibilities of parenthood is a daunting experience even with the support of a partner or a husband.

Facing the task as a young mother and lone parent carries even more risks. 

The young woman is less likely to complete their education, to have qualifications in adulthood or to get a job. And they are much more likely to be confined to poverty for the rest of their lives.  

There are also risks for the child.Children born to teenage mothers are more likely to live in a lone parent household, with greater risk of neglect, poorer quality housing and poorer nutrition. 

And the daughters of teenage mothers can often go on themselves to become young mothers and so the cycle of poverty continues.

The inquiry launched this week by the Scottish Parliaments health committee which I convene will look to see how the cycle can be broken.It will ask if action being taken in Scotland is sufficient to bring about real and sustained reduction in unplanned teenage pregnancies. 

It will also investigate what support is available for those most at risk of teenage pregnancy. Whilst it is clear that there are no quick fixes or easy answers, we must act not only for the young mothers and their children, but for wider society on whose support they rely on.