Teenage mums are more likely to have premature and underweight babies than women in their 20s, a study of 50,000 English mums has found.
Teenage mums were found to be particularly at risk of giving birth prematurely with their second child. Mums aged 17 or under were 21% more likely to have a premature baby with their first pregnancy and 93% more likely to give birth early with their second.
The researchers, based in Cork, Republic of Ireland, have used the evidence from their study to recommend more health and sex education for teenage girls. They hope this will help prevent them from becoming pregnant immediately after having their first child.
The reason behind the premature births may be the biological immaturity of teenagers’ bodies as they’re still growing. “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,” said Dr Ali Khashan, who worked on the study.
“The nice clear message here is that it is even more important for pregnant teenagers to have their antenatal checks to identify if there are any problems,” said Professor Steve Thronton, from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.
If you’re a teen mum, chat to your GP about any concerns and find out when your health check-ups will be.