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West J Med. 1995 April; 162(4): 328–330.
PMCID: PMC1022770

Pregnant teens in prison. Prevalence, management, and consequences.


To estimate the number of pregnant and parenting teens currently incarcerated and to assess the correctional health care and social services provided to this target population, we surveyed 430 juvenile detention and long-term correctional facilities in the United States that incarcerate adolescent girls. Of these, 261 (61%) institutions responded and are included in the analysis. Of these facilities, 68% estimated that they were holding 1 to 5 pregnant adolescents on a given day, with a reported yearly (September 1991 to September 1992) census of 2,000 pregnant teenagers and 1,200 teenaged mothers. Nearly half of the facilities (45%) continue to incarcerate after it is determined that a youth is pregnant. Of those institutions that incarcerate pregnant adolescents, 31% provide no prenatal services and 70% provide no parenting classes. Of these facilities, 60% reported at least 1 obstetric complication in their pregnant population. A substantial number of pregnant and parenting adolescents are in custody in the United States. General community standards of health and social services for pregnant and parenting teenagers are not being met by the institutions that incarcerate them.

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