With a baby in her belly, Jamie Lynn Spears may have to kiss her acting career goodbye.
In the new issue of OK! magazine, the 16-year-old sister of Britney Spears announced that she's 12 weeks pregnant and that the father is her 18-year-old boyfriend, Casey Aldridge.
"It was a shock for both of us, so unexpected. I was in complete and total shock and so was he," Spears told OK! magazine.
Spears currently stars in "Zoey 101," a Nickelodeon series targeted at young girls whose parents probably don't want them idolizing a pregnant teen star. The fourth and final season of "Zoey 101" completed production in September, but it remains to be seen whether Nickelodeon will invite Spears back for other projects in light of her pregnancy.
"If they present it next year as no big deal, it could send the message to young girls that you can get pregnant and life will go on much as before, which is simply not true," said Robert Knight, director of the Media Research Center's Culture and Media Institute. "Given that her core audience is 10- to 14-year-old girls, she's probably not the best role model."
Knight added that he wouldn't be surprised if "Zoey 101's" advertisers pulled out of the show.
"The advertisers will probably wait to see how Nickelodeon handles this situation," he said. "But I would think some are rethinking their commitment."
But the controversy isn't likely to take away from "Zoey 101's" status as one of Nickelodeon's top-rated shows. Just as Britney's erratic behavior — flashing the paparazzi, shaving her head bald, skipping child custody hearings to club-hop — kept her in the headlines in 2007, her little sister's pregnancy could keep viewers hooked on the series.
"I don't think the young girls who watch the problem will tune out because of the pregnancy," Knight said. "Like anyone watching an unfolding drama, they might even tune in more."
Nickelodeon released a statement late Tuesday saying, "We respect Jamie Lynn's decision to take responsibility in this sensitive and personal situation. We know this is a very difficult time for her and her family, and our primary concern right now is for Jamie Lynn's well-being."
In her OK! magazine interview, Spears voiced hope that the network will continue to reach out to her.
"I haven't spoken to [Nickelodeon] personally, but they have always been so great to me over the past years and have given me so many opportunities," she said.
Spears' pregnancy has apparently had consequences for her mother as well.
According to Publisher's Weekly, Lynne Spears was slated to release a book about "raising high-profile children while coming from a low-profile Louisiana community" in spring 2008. That book, which was to be put out by a company that publishes inspirational books and Bibles, has been delayed indefinitely, according to People.com.
In 2006, the number of teen pregnancies rose for the first time in 14 years. Spears' pregnancy puts a public face on the growing trend.
Parents may want to use Spears' pregnancy to talk to their kids about premarital sex.
"Use this as a teachable moment," said "Good Morning America's" parenting contributor Ann Pleshette Murphy. "Your kids will listen to you. Sit down with them and talk to them about this and about sex education."