Objective: To evaluate and characterize the racial/ethnic differences in obstetric outcomes of early and late teenagers in California.
Methods: A data-set linking birth and death certificates with maternal and neonatal hospital discharge records in California was utilized to identify nulliparous women (11 to 29 years of age) who delivered between January 1,1992 and December 31,1997. Pregnancy outcomes of early (11-15 year) and late (16-19 year) teenagers were compared to those of a control group of women aged 20-29.
Results: Early (n = 31 232) and late teens (n = 271 470) demonstrated greater neonatal and infant mortality and major neonatal morbidities (delivery < 37 weeks of gestation and birthweight < 2500 g) when compared to pregnancies in the older control women (n = 662 752). Ethnicity adversely affected outcome with African-Americans of all ages having worse outcomes than whites. The higher rate of adverse obstetric outcomes among the teenage pregnancies occurred despite a lower cesarean section rate and was consistent across all ethnic groups.
Conclusions: When compared to women aged 20-29, all teen pregnancies were associated with higher rates of poor obstetric outcomes. Other factors besides teen pregnancy appear to be responsible for poor outcomes in certain ethnic groups.