Adult Versus Adolescent Preterm Birth: A Comparison of Complication and Intervention Rates Across Age Groups

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Background and Aims: Estimates of the rate of prematurity in the US range from 6% to 15% of all births (Slattery & Morrison, 2002). One factor found to be related to preterm birth in some studies is age. In this study we sought to determine whether the rates of certain pregnancy and birth complications and interventions differ between adult and teenage mothers who have given birth prematurely.

Methods: This chart review studied all infants born prematurely who were cared for at an Appalachian teaching hospital during 1993 and 1994 (n = 241; 46 under age 20 and 195). A grid containing 46 pieces of data was used to collect data from charts. Two trained data collectors were used throughout the study. For this study only information recorded by medical personnel was extracted from charts. Mothers under 20 years of age were considered to be adolescent, while those 20 and over were considered to be adults. These ages are recognized by federal funding agencies as well as local adolescent prenatal clinics.

Results: Several pregnancy and birth complications and interventions were compared for births of premature infants born to adolescent and adult mothers (e.g., PIH, PPROM, Preeclampsia, betamethasone administration). Only the c-section rate differed significantly with 25% of infants of adolescent mothers born by c-section compared to 45.8% of adult mothers’ infants.

Conclusion: The proportions of the investigated categories of pregnancy and birth complications do not differ significantly between adolescent and adult mothers who have given birth to preterm infants. Only the rate of infants delivered by c-section differed with adolescents more likely to deliver preterm infants vaginally.

Reference: Slattery, M. M. & Morrison, J. J. (2002). Preterm delivery (Review). The Lancet, 360, 1498-.


Vancouver, BC, Canada

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