TEENAGERS who plan to have babies are often looking for unconditional love, recognition and status, according to research carried out in an area with one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy.
While the vast majority of teen pregnancies are unplanned, evidence from a study conducted in Tayside shows that many young women who deliberately get pregnant do so as a means of moving into adulthood.
NHS Tayside carried out the research to gain a better understanding of young pregnant women, given the region’s historically high rates of teen pregnancy compared to other parts of the country, Holyrood’s Health Committee was told yesterday.
Ann Eriksen, executive lead in sexual health at NHS Tayside, said: “Some of the things that emerged from that piece of research – among those young women who had said that they wanted to be pregnant, they wanted a baby – was very much around looking for love, looking for affection, looking for… someone they could love unconditionally, that would love them in return.
“There was also something around gaining recognition and status within families, within their communities, where some of the young women might not see that in terms of educational attainment, or indeed in terms of employment, so having a baby is also like being recognised as moving into adulthood.”
Ms Eriksen said family history was also a factor, with several young mothers themselves the result of a teenage pregnancy.
She added: “Last, really, the theme that seemed to emerge, certainly for some of the young mums… there was a hope that they would be able to get their own accommodation, to be able to move out of the family home.”