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Disadvantages of Having an Adolescent Mother


Fall, Caroline H. D.; Osmond, Clive; Haazen, Dominic S.; Sachdev, Harshpal Singh; Victora, Cesar G.; Martorell, Reynaldo; Stein, Aryeh D.; Adair, Linda S.; Norris, Shane A.; & Richter, Linda M., et al. (2016). Disadvantages of Having an Adolescent Mother. Lancet Global Health, 4(11), e787-8. PMCID: PMC5722194


We recently reported associations between maternal age at childbirth and outcomes in the offspring, using data from five birth cohorts (COHORTS collaboration) in low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs), in The Lancet Global Health. 1 Young maternal age (<19 years) was associated with lower offspring birthweight, gestational age, childhood nutritional status (weight-for-age and height-for-age at 2 years), and attained schooling, and higher adult glucose concentration, compared with offspring of mothers aged 20–24 years. These associations were independent of maternal socioeconomic status, height, and parity. After publication, the Health, Nutrition, and Population Global Practice at the World Bank asked us for a more detailed analysis of the younger maternal age group to inform policy discussions on adolescent pregnancy, in particular whether the children of the youngest teenage mothers had the worst outcomes. We now present separate estimates for each year of maternal age between 15 and 19 years, and the significance of trends across this age range. The analysis uses data of 19 403 women, of whom 2472 were aged 15–19 years: 912 from Brazil, 283 from Guatemala, 411 from India, 382 from the Philippines, and 484 from South Africa (appendix, p 12). Linear regression in pooled data from all five cohorts was used to estimate, for each maternal age, the amount (with 95% CIs) by which each outcome differed from the offspring of mothers aged 20–24 years. Model 1 was adjusted for sex and adult age (for adult outcomes only). Model 2 was further adjusted for maternal marital status, schooling, wealth index, race (Brazil and South Africa only), and urbanicity (Philippines only). Model 3 was further adjusted for maternal height, parity, and breastfeeding duration (for postnatal outcomes only).


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Lancet Global Health


Fall, Caroline H. D.
Osmond, Clive
Haazen, Dominic S.
Sachdev, Harshpal Singh
Victora, Cesar G.
Martorell, Reynaldo
Stein, Aryeh D.
Adair, Linda S.
Norris, Shane A.
Richter, Linda M.
The COHORTS Investigators,