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Obstet Gynecol. 1996 Jan;87(1):83-8.

Adolescence and very low birth weight infants: a disproportionate association.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Arizona, Tucson, USA.



To examine the incidence of very low birth weight (VLBW) neonates, defined as those weighing less than 1500 g, delivered by adolescents compared with the general obstetric population.


A retrospective observational study of 16,857 women delivering live-born infants from January 1, 1989, to June 30, 1993, was conducted at the University of Arizona Health Sciences Center. Adolescents were defined as those having a maternal age of 18 years or less at the time of delivery. The rate of VLBW infants delivered to adolescent mothers was compared with the general obstetric population (women at least 19 years old) using chi 2 analysis, multiple analysis of variance, and multiple linear regression.


During the study period, 204 VLBW infants were delivered, yielding an overall VLBW delivery rate of 1.2%. Adolescents had a VLBW delivery rate that was considerably higher than the general obstetrical population: 35 of 1758 (2.0%) versus 169 of 15,099 (1.1%) (P = .002). Whereas adolescents accounted for 10.6% of the total deliveries during the study period, they delivered 17% of the VLBW neonates. The relative risk of an adolescent delivering a VLBW infant was 1.7 (95% confidence interval 1.2-2.2).


Preterm birth is one of the major unresolved problems in modern obstetrics. Although the association between adolescence and preterm birth has been reported previously, specific attention has not been focused on the VLBW neonate. We conclude that adolescents deliver a disproportionate number of VLBW infants.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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