Background: Adolescent pregnancies are a growing public health problem in Cameroon. We sought to study the outcome of such pregnancies, in order to inform public health action.
Methods: A cross-sectional analysis of 5997 deliveries which compared the outcome of deliveries in adolescent (10-19 years old) pregnant women registered at the Yaoundé Central Hospital between 2008 and 2010 to that of their non-adolescent adult (≥ 20 years old) counterparts. Variables used for comparison included socio-demographic and obstetric characteristics of parturients, referral status, and maternal and fetal outcomes. Predictors of maternal and of perinatal mortality were determined through binomial logistic modeling.
Results: Adolescent deliveries represented 9.3% (560) of all pregnancies registered. Adolescent pregnancies had significantly higher rates of both gestational duration extremes: preterm as well as post-term deliveries (29.3% versus 24.5%, p = 0.041 OR 1.28 95% CI 1.01-1.62 and 4.9 versus 2.4%, p = 0.014 OR 2.11 95% CI 1.46-3.87 respectively). Both groups did not differ significantly with respect to mean blood loss, rates of cesarean or instrumental deliveries. Adolescent deliveries however required significantly twice as many episiotomies (OR 2.15 95% CI 1.59-2.90). The likelihood of perineal tears in the adolescent group was significantly higher than that in the adult group on assuming episiotomies done would have been tears if they had not been carried out (OR 1.45 95% CI 1.16-1.82). Adolescent parturients had a higher likelihood of apparent fetal death at birth as well as perinatal fetal death after resuscitation efforts (AOR 1.75 95% CI 1.25-2.47 and AOR 1.69 95% CI 1.17-2.45 respectively).Comparisons of pregnancy outcomes between early (10-14 years), middle (15-17 years) and late adolescence (18-19 years) found no significant differences. Predictors of maternal death included having been referred, having had ≥5 deliveries and preterm deliveries. These were also predictors of perinatal death, as well as being a single mother, primiparous, and multiple gestations.
Conclusions: Adolescent pregnancies in Cameroon compared to those in adults are associated with poorer outcomes. There is need for adolescent-specific services to prevent teenage pregnancies as well as interventions to prevent and manage the above mentioned predictors of in-facility maternal and perinatal mortality.