Social Outcomes of Early Childbearing: Important Considerations for the Provision of Clinical Care


  • Kathryn Bondy Fessle MD, MA

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    • Kathryn Bondy Fessler, MD, MA, is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Michigan Medical School and a doctoral candidate in Sociology at the University of Michigan Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies.

The Corner Health Center, 47 North Huron, Ypsilanti, MI 48197.


Traditional understanding of adolescent childbearing includes a belief that the social and economic consequences for both mother and child are almost universally negative. Recent research, however, reveals that the outcomes resulting from the birth of children to young mothers are diverse and complex. Social circumstances contributing to adolescent pregnancy and parenting, such as poverty, poor educational opportunity, and violence, are also causes of less than optimal outcomes for young mothers and their children; thus, attributions of cause and effect are difficult to make. By reviewing outcomes research that approaches this question in a number of more creative ways, clinicians can gain a more complete understanding of this phenomenon. It is hoped that health care providers with access to new evidence about the social consequences of adolescent childbearing will have improved success and satisfaction in providing competent, compassionate care to pregnant and parenting adolescents.