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Indian J Community Med. 2009 Jul;34(3):227-31. doi: 10.4103/0970-0218.55289.

Teenage pregnancy: a socially inflicted health hazard.

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1
Department of Community Medicine, Maulana Azad Medical College, New Delhi, India.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Early marriage and confinement are contributing factors to high maternal and perinatal mortality and morbidity.

OBJECTIVE:

To assess the magnitude of the problem of teenage pregnancy and its complications.

MATERIALS AND METHODS:

A hospital-based cohort study was undertaken over 4 months among women admitted to a rural hospital in West Bengal. The study cohort comprised of teenage mothers between 15-19 years old and a control cohort of mothers between 20-24 years old. Data included demographic variables, available medical records, and complications viz. anemia, preterm delivery, and low birth weight. Anemia was defined as a hemoglobin level below 10 gm% during the last trimester of pregnancy, preterm delivery was defined as occurring within 37 weeks of gestation, and low birth weight was defined as babies weighing less than 2500 grams at birth.

RESULT:

Teenage pregnancy comprised 24.17% of total pregnancies occurring in the hospital during the study period. The study group had 58 subjects and the control group had 91 subjects. The prevalence of anemia was significantly higher (P<0.05) in the women in the teenage group (62.96%) than in the women in the control group (43.59%). However, severe anemia with a hemoglobin level below 8 gm% was only found in the control group. Preterm delivery occurred significantly more (P<0.001) in the study group (51.72%) than in the control group (25.88%). The incidence of low birth weight was significantly higher (P<0.0001) among the group of teenagers (65.52%) than among the women in the control group (26.37%). Not a single newborn was above 3 kg in the study group, while none were below 1.5 kg in the control group. The mean birth weight was 2.36 kg in the study group and 2.74 kg in the control group; the difference was strongly significant (P<0.001).

CONCLUSION:

The study shows that anemia, preterm delivery, and low birth weight were more prevalent among teenagers than among women who were 20-24 years old. This indicates the need for enhancing family welfare measures to delay the age at first pregnancy, thereby reducing the multiple complications that may occur in the young mother and her newborn baby.

KEYWORDS:

Anemia; complications; low birth weight; preterm delivery; teen pregnancy

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