Background: Teenage pregnancies are associated with negative socioeconomic effects. Our aim was to ascertain whether a postnatal home-visiting service for teenage mothers younger than age 18 years could reduce the frequency of adverse neonatal outcomes and improve knowledge of contraception, breastfeeding, and infant vaccination schedules in this parent group.
Methods: We enrolled 139 adolescents, attending a teenage pregnancy clinic, in a randomised controlled trial. After completing an antenatal questionnaire designed to assess their knowledge of contraception, infant vaccination, and breastfeeding, we assigned participants to either receive five structured postnatal home visits by nurse-midwives (n=65) or not (n=71). Assessment interviews were done 6 months postpartum. Our primary endpoint was unadjusted difference in knowledge between groups, and incidence of predefined adverse neonatal outcomes. Analysis was by intention to treat.
Findings: Three women withdrew before randomisation because of late fetal loss, 11 mothers withdrew because of adverse neonatal outcomes (adverse neonatal outcome was a primary endpoint, but resulted in withdrawal from the study for knowledge outcomes), and one left voluntarily. Follow-up data were, therefore, available for 124 teenagers. Postnatal home visits were associated with a reduction in adverse neonatal outcomes (intervention: 2; control: 9; relative risk 0.24, 95% CI 0.05-1.08), and a significant increase in contraception knowledge (mean difference 0.92, 95% CI 0.32-1.52). However, there was no significant increase in knowledge with respect to breastfeeding or infant vaccination schedules associated with the home visits.
Interpretation: Postnatal home-visiting services by nurse-midwives reduce adverse neonatal events and improve contraception outcomes, but do not affect breastfeeding or infant vaccination knowledge or compliance.