Pregnancy Outcomes Worse for Young Versus Older Adolescents

Young pregnant adolescents (aged 15 years or younger) more likely to be people of color, have less prenatal care, and have higher rates of preterm birth
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Medically Reviewed By:
Mark Arredondo, M.D.

MONDAY, Feb. 27, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- Young pregnant adolescents have worse outcomes than older adolescents, according to a study published in the March issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology: Maternal-Fetal Medicine.

Anne M. Ambia, M.D., from University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, and colleagues examined whether young adolescents (aged 15 years or younger; 868 patients) had worse perinatal outcomes than older adolescents (aged 16 to 19 years old; 10,026 patients) and older parents (aged 20 to 34 years old) among those living in an urban inner city.

The researchers found that young adolescents were more likely to be Hispanic or non-Hispanic Black and accessed prenatal care at a later gestational age (19.7 weeks) versus older adolescents (16.7 weeks) and the older cohort of parents (15.7 weeks). They also accessed prenatal care less frequently in pregnancy versus older parents. Compared with older adolescents, young adolescents were more likely to have preterm birth at <37 weeks of gestation and eclampsia (0.5 versus 0.1 percent). Preeclampsia with severe features and preterm birth at <37 weeks of gestation remained significant when adjusting for race, ethnicity, and body mass index. Young adolescents with obesity were more likely to have preeclampsia with severe features (odds ratio, 1.81) and have a cesarean delivery (odds ratio, 2.71) compared with adolescents without obesity.

"This study highlights the unique perinatal characteristics of a population that are not often studied in the United States -- adolescents between the ages of 10 and 15," Ambia said in a statement. "Knowledge of these patients' characteristics and outcomes shows that we have opportunities to intervene to prevent pregnancy and make a real difference in their well-being."

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