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Supporting Psychosocial Adaptation for the Pregnant Adolescent in Corrections

Hufft, Anita G. PhD, RN

MCN: The American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing: March-April 2004 - Volume 29 - Issue 2 - p 122-127
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This article addresses an aspect of adolescent healthcare that is often forgotten: pregnancy in correctional detention. Young women in corrections face unique problems socially, personally, and with their healthcare. Stress, environmental and legal restrictions, unhealthy lifestyle behaviors prior to pregnancy, and weakened or nonexistent social support systems are common among pregnant adolescents who are incarcerated. Nurses who strive to deliver perinatal care consistent with a feminist-based, gender-sensitive framework, in which pregnancy is considered a health state and rights to self-determination are preserved, are challenged when caring for girls in correctional settings. Assumptions about health and freedom of choice do not always apply to minors who are detained in correctional settings. Ensuring safety for pregnant adolescents within a correctional setting requires attention to issues of security and to issues of timely access to healthcare. There must be a balance between restricting movements because of security concerns and expanding movement privileges necessary to support essential healthcare and other support services. Nurses who care for adolescents in any setting should understand more about the multiplicity of issues surrounding healthcare and pregnancy for these adolescents, for these young women will interact with the healthcare system again in the future.

Young women in correctional facilities have special health needs during pregnancy. This challenging population is the topic of Dr. Hufft's article.

Anita G. Hufft is the Dean, College of Nursing, Valdosta State University, Valdosta, GA. She can be reached via e-mail at

© 2004 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.