Washington: Pregnant teenagers are more likely to give birth prematurely and have a small baby than women in their 20s, says a new study.
Ali Khashan, from University College Cork, Ireland, worked with a team of researchers to study all 14-29 year-old women who had a live baby in the North West of England between January 2004 and December 2006.
The researchers identified 3,636 people who were between 14 and 17 at the time of birth, 7,506 who were aged between 18 and 19, and 45,211 who were 20 to 29.
The rates of teenage pregnancy increased with increasing social deprivation such that more than one third of the teenage mothers came from the most socially deprived areas.
Teenage mothers were more likely to be underweight and of white ethnic background. Women who gave birth during the teenage years were at increased risk of preterm and very preterm delivery.
This risk was higher for younger teenager mothers than for older teenagers and in the 14-17 group the risk was greater in second pregnancies than in first.
Speaking about the results, Khashan said: "It is possible that the increased risk of poor pregnancy outcome is related to biological immaturity. It is also possible that the increased risk of poor pregnancy outcome in the second teenage pregnancy is related to numerous complicating factors such as greater social deprivation and less prenatal care."
The study appears in the open access journal BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth.