This article reviews recent evidence on the changing patterns of childbearing among adolescents and the impact of premature parenthood on the life course of young mothers and their children. Although adolescent mothers experience conspicuous disadvantages in educational attainment and economic well-being, over time the differences between early and later childbearing appear to diminish somewhat, at least for Blacks. The children of teenage mothers, however, are distinctly worse off throughout childhood than the offspring of older childbearers. The reasons for this disparity are explored. The concluding section discusses a range of preventive and ameliorative strategies for reducing the cost of early childbearing. The evidence supports the need for more integration among services and the importance of increasing the availability of services to those in need.
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