April 20, 2013
Teenage Pregnancy May Result In Obesity Later In Life
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online
Contrary to a popularly held theory claiming younger mothers have an easier time regaining and maintaining their pre-birth figure, new research reports teenage pregnancy actually increases the likelihood a woman will become overweight or obese later on in life.The study, which was conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan Health System and published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology (AJOG), found women who were not pregnant during their teenage years were significantly less likely to become overweight or obese in the future. The nationally representative study is believed to be the first to identify teen pregnancy as a predictor of future weight gain.
“When taking care of teen moms, we often have so many immediate concerns — child care, housing, school, social and financial support — that we don´t often think of the long term health effects of teen pregnancy,” lead author Tammy Chang, a clinical lecturer in the UM Medical School´s department of family medicine, said in a statement.
“For the first time, we´ve identified our youngest moms as a high risk group for obesity, which we know to be one of the most debilitating, long-term health issues we face,” she added.
The research was based on data obtained from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), a nationwide study designed to assess the health and nutritional status of adults and children throughout the US. After first controlling for factors such as race, education and socio-economic indicators, Chang and her colleagues discovered women who had given birth for the first time while between 13 and 19 years of age had a 32 percent higher risk of obesity than those who had their first child after the age of 20.
Their results also demonstrated that significantly fewer women with teen births were of normal weight in comparison to those who had not given birth before the age of 20, the researchers added.
“We need further studies to better understand the link between teen birth and obesity, so that physicians and policymakers can provide the best care to teen mothers and women who have given birth as teenagers,” explained Chang, who authored the study along with HwaJung Choi, Caroline R. Richardson and Matthew M. Davis — all of the Ann Arbor, Michigan-based university.
“We know that teen pregnancy is tied to certain immediate risks, such as babies having low birth weight and mothers struggling to complete high school — and now we know that it is also associated with poor long-term health outcomes,” Chang added. “Obesity is a prevalent, expensive health problem with detrimental health consequences and it´s difficult to reverse, which is why it´s incredibly important to identify at risk groups early so that we can intervene.”