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Addressing Crises in Teenage Pregnancy

[ Vol. 9 , Issue. 2 ]


Osarumen N. Doghor*, Faith O. Nomamiukor, Efetobore N. Okotcha and Edore Onigu-Otite   Pages 69 - 80 ( 12 )


Background: Adolescent pregnancy is a major public health concern with medical, psychiatric, and social implications. Within this population, there is an elevated rate of co-occurring psychiatric conditions including mood disorders, anxiety disorders, suicidality, and substance use. However, little is known about the assessment and treatment of adolescent pregnancy within the context of these co-occurring psychiatric conditions, particularly in an emergency situation.

Objective: This article utilizes a case report to illustrate the challenges faced in consultative psychiatry in the assessment and treatment of a pregnant suicidal youth with a complex psychosocial history. Topics addressed include: 1) The role of childhood trauma and suicidality in adolescent pregnancy 2) A consideration of the risks and benefits of treating adolescents with psychotropics during pregnancy.

Methods: A literature search was performed with the key words of adolescent, pregnancy, child sexual abuse and psychiatric illness. In addition, expert opinions of a reproductive psychiatrist and a psychiatrist who had specialized in addiction and adolescents were enlisted on key aspects of the case formulation and treatment.

Results: Several studies were found that focused on depression, substance abuse and trauma in adolescent pregnancy. There were more studies that looked at psychopharmacological treatment in adult pregnant women and a few that focused on adolescents.

Conclusion: Addressing the crisis of psychiatric illness in adolescent pregnancy requires a thorough approach in understanding the severity of the illness and the contribution of child abuse and suicidality. Psychotherapeutic interventions are most certainly always necessary and beneficial when dealing with this population. Deciding when to start and maintain medication during pregnancy should be individualized, with considerations of the risks of untreated illness and of medication exposure.


Adolescent, pregnancy, child sexual abuse, depression, antidepressants, psychotherapeutic interventions.


Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Greensboro, North Carolina, Texas Tech University Health Science Center, Amarillo, TX, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas

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