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.