Objective: To determine whether full-term, healthy infants born to early adolescent mothers (15 years old and younger) are at higher risk of postneonatal death compared with infants of adult mothers.
Methods: We combined the comprehensive 1996 and 1997 United States birth cohorts to compare postneonatal mortality rates among maternal age groups. With postneonatal death as our main outcome measure, we used multivariable logistic regression to model adjusted odds ratios.
Results: The postneonatal mortality rate for infants born to mothers 15 years old and younger was substantially higher (3.2 per 1000) than that of infants born to mothers 23-29 years old (0.8 per 1000) and remained substantially higher after adjusting for maternal race or ethnicity. Even after adjusting for maternal race or ethnicity, prenatal care utilization, and marital status, infants born to early adolescent mothers had a three-fold higher risk (odds ratio 3.0, 95% confidence interval 2.5, 3.6) of postneonatal death compared with adult mothers.
Conclusion: Healthy infants born to early adolescent mothers are at increased risk of postneonatal death. Many of these deaths are potentially preventable; therefore, developing targeted postnatal support services specifically designed to address the needs of healthy infants born to adolescent mothers might have a positive effect on the lives of these children.