Although the preteen and her baby are healthy, social services is investigating the young mom's pregnancy.

By Beth Ann Mayer
June 29, 2021
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An 11-year-old became what at least one doctor believes to be the youngest person to give birth in the U.K. last month, according to a report by British news outlet The Sun. The girl became pregnant at 10 years old and delivered her child after more than 30 weeks of pregnancy.

Both mom and baby are healthy. But the birth came as a surprise to her family, who didn't know the child was pregnant, according to Sun.

"It came as a big shock," a source close to the family told the publication. "She's now being surrounded by expert help. The main thing is that she and the baby are OK."

But social services and council chiefs are looking into the matter. "There are questions around why people did not know," the source continued. "That is very worrying."

hand holding pregnancy test
Credit: Illustration by Francesca Spatola; Getty (1)

Sun doctor Carol Cooper says this is the youngest birth she's heard of. Previously, another British preteen, Tressa Middleton, gave birth at the age of 12 years old in 2006. And a 12-year-old mother and 14-year-old father had a child in 2014, the lowest combined age of British parents on record, according to Sun. Another 11-year-old was reportedly pregnant in 2017, but the outlet didn't learn any further details about the outcome.

How could a child so young get pregnant? Dr. Cooper says the onset of puberty is happening earlier these days.

"The average age at which a girl begins puberty is 11, though it can be anytime between 8 and 14, or younger," Dr. Cooper told the outlet. "Weight affects many hormones. Because children are heavier, puberty is happening earlier these days."

But just because children that young are physically able to get pregnant doesn't mean there aren't high risks involved. "There's a higher risk of a low-birthweight baby, pre-eclampsia, premature labor, and many infections," Dr. Cooper continued.

In addition to potential complications during pregnancy and delivery, teen parents are also more likely to drop out of high school. Thankfully, teen pregnancy rates have fallen in the U.S. in recent years. Doctors attribute the decline in part to the rise in contraceptive education and use.

The same experts say parents should communicate openly with their child about sex and prevention methods. If a child does become pregnant, they suggest that they not hide it and find a trusted adult who can help them get the care they need. Support groups, like the Teen and Pregnant Program, provide resources.