Objective: We sought to measure and compare pregnancy complications in middle school versus high school versus older maternal age groups.
Study design: From January 1988 through December 31, 1991, maternal and infant data from 16,512 consecutive nulliparous women were collected and electronically stored. These women were divided into three study groups: middle school (11 to 15 years old), high school (16 to 19 years old), and women 20 to 22 years old at delivery. Statistical analysis included logistic regression to control for potentially confounding demographic variables.
Results: Middle school-aged mothers were disproportionately black (50% vs 36% Hispanic vs 14% white), and very low birth weight (4% vs. 2%, p = 0.003) was increased in these youthful mothers. First births to high school-aged mothers were not found to be compromised compared with those of women 20 to 22 years old, and, indeed, cesarean birth was less frequent in these women compared with those > or = 20 years old.
Conclusions: We conclude that the health hazard associated with school-age pregnancy is predominantly prematurity and is increased only in middle school-aged mothers. High school-aged mothers do not experience excess medical complications of pregnancy compared with older women. We suggest that middle school pregnancy, particularly for inner-city teenagers, should be a special focus for pregnancy prevention and intervention.