Effect of maternal age on birth outcomes among young adolescents

Soc Biol. 1995 Spring-Summer;42(1-2):22-35. doi: 10.1080/19485565.1995.9988885.


This study examined the effect of maternal age on birth outcomes among young adolescents, ages 10 through 15. All records representing single births of primipara, Black or White adolescents, were selected for analysis from the 1983-1986 National Center for Health Statistics' Public Use Linked Live Birth-Infant Death Data File (n = 127,668). Logistic regression analyses controlled for effects of maternal race, marital status, prenatal care, gravidity, education, and metropolitan/nonmetropolitan residency. Univariate analyses indicated that the youngest adolescents were at greatest risk for negative birth outcomes including very preterm and preterm delivery, low birth weight, small for gestational age (SGA), and neonatal mortality. Logistic analyses showed similar results, with the exception that differences in SGA were insignificant. This study indicates the importance of examining age-specific birth outcomes among a population that has traditionally been studied in aggregate and underscores the need for increased prevention efforts.

PIP: Data for this study were obtained from the US National Center for Health Statistics' Public Use Linked Live Birth-Infant Death Data File for birth cohorts born during 1983-86 on 127,668 live births and 2470 infant deaths to mothers aged 10-15 years of age. The study aim is to examine primipara singleton birth outcomes among very young mothers. Comparison is made to the reference group of 15-year-old mothers, who were White, married, with adequate prenatal care, one or more prior pregnancies, average educational attainment, and nonmetropolitan residence. Age-specific birth rates increased as age increased. Birth outcomes differed by maternal age. As maternal age increased, the number of very preterm and moderately preterm deliveries decreased, the number of very low and moderately low birth weights decreased, and neonatal and infant mortality decreased. Births to adolescents aged 10-12 years were more likely to be small for gestational age (SGA). Logistic models confirm that risk of preterm and very preterm infants increased for younger age groups compared to the reference group. Other independent significant factors related to preterm delivery are identified as Black race, unmarried status, inadequate prenatal care, low educational status, and metropolitan residence. These factors, excluding metropolitan residence, are risk factors for SGA and postneonatal mortality. Logistic regression differed from bivariate analysis in that maternal age was not an independent risk factor for SGA. The view is taken that differences within the very young adolescent population in birth outcomes warrant independent goals and objectives for improving child health, particularly in metropolitan areas. Pregnancy prevention strategies must target the very young population.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant Mortality
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Very Low Birth Weight
  • Maternal Age*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome*
  • Pregnancy in Adolescence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Risk Factors