The consequences of teen parenthood are profound for the young mother and father, their baby and society.
Studies show startling repercussions:
* Teen-age mothers and fathers are less likely to finish school than their peers.
* Teen-age parents will make only half as much money in their lifetimes as teens who wait until age 20 to have a baby; teen parents are also more likely to live in poverty.
* Teen parents who marry have a higher-than-average chance of divorce.
* Babies of teen-age mothers are more likely to be born prematurely or at low birth weight and with related health problems, says the March of Dimes.
* Babies born to teen mothers are 11% more likely to have birth defects than babies whose mothers are in their 20s, according to a recent study from the California Birth Defects Monitoring Program; one in 32 babies born to teens has a birth defect.
* Babies born to teens are more likely to die before age 1.
* Babies born to teens are more likely to be abused or neglected children.
* In 1992, Medi-Cal funded more than 50% of the births to teen-agers.
* The Aid to Families with Dependent Children and Medi-Cal cost for one teen pregnancy, childbirth and first year of support is $10,000, according to a state Department of Health Services analysis in 1994.
* In 1993, 2,118 additional kindergarten classes were needed in California for the children who were born to teen mothers in 1987, according to the state Department of Education.
* Nationwide, more than half of AFDC payments support families in which the mother gave birth as a teen-ager, according to the Center for Population Options.