Remaining patient: Transforming the practices of health care to promote positive outcomes for teen mothers and their children

Teen pregnancy is a health issue affecting Canadian youth, particularly vulnerable teens. Unfortunately, teen mothers typically do not access health care regularly which hinders their ability to receive necessary information about both prenatal and maternal health. Without effective and early intervention, young mothers and their children have ongoing health, social and education issues that strain the health care system. While researchers have differing opinions about the impact of age on these health outcomes, most research defines teenage pregnancy as a health and social problem. Genevieve Creighton is studying whether the concept of teen mothers as “ill” stigmatizes teen mothers, making them reluctant to access the health care system for fear of being judged by health care workers and educators. Creighton is working with pregnant and parenting teens and their health care providers to determine whether certain attitudes and practices have a negative impact on their relationships and how these can be transformed. This information could help health and social service providers design more effective programs for teen mothers and other vulnerable populations.