In this review, we examine the epidemiology of teenage pregnancy (girls aged 15–17 years) in the UK and consider the evidence for its impact on the health and well-being of the mother, the baby, the father and society. There has been some decrease in the teenage pregnancy rate over the last decade in the UK but rates are still considerably higher than those in other European countries. Pregnancy and childbirth during the teenage years are associated with increased risk of poorer health and well-being for both the mother and the baby, possibly reflecting the socio-economic factors that precede early pregnancy and childbirth. There is little evidence concerning the impact of teenage fatherhood on health and future studies should investigate this. The effect on society is a perpetuation of the widening gap in health and social inequalities. Public health interventions should aim to identify teenagers who are vulnerable and support those who are pregnant with evidence based interventions such as teenage antenatal clinics and access to initiatives that provide support for early parenthood.
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Competing interests: None.
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