Defining early adolescent childbearing

Am J Public Health. 2002 Jan;92(1):125-8. doi: 10.2105/ajph.92.1.125.


Objectives: This study determined the age group for the case definition of early adolescent childbearing based on rates of adverse clinical outcomes.

Methods: We examined rates of infant mortality, very low birthweight (<1500 g), and very preterm delivery (<32 weeks) per 1000 live births for all US singleton first births (n = 768 029) to women aged 12 to 23 years in the 1995 US birth cohort.

Results: Rates of infant mortality, very low birthweight, and very preterm delivery were graphed by maternal age. In all 3 cases, the inflection point below which the rate of poor birth outcome is lower and begins to stabilize is at 16 years; therefore, mothers 15 years and younger were grouped together to determine the case definition of early adolescent childbearing. The inflection points were similar when outcomes were stratified by the 3 largest US racial/ethnic groups (non-Hispanic White, non-Hispanic Black, and Mexican American).

Conclusions: From this population-based analysis of birth outcomes, we conclude that early adolescent childbearing is best defined as giving birth at 15 years or younger.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / adverse effects
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Birth Certificates
  • Child
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant Mortality*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature
  • Infant, Very Low Birth Weight*
  • Maternal Age
  • Obstetric Labor, Premature*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome*
  • Pregnancy in Adolescence*
  • Prenatal Care
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / adverse effects