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The Consequences Of Teenage Pregnancy

April 10, 2009

The risk of becoming overweight is much higher in women who bear children in their teens than those who do not, according to new research, Reuters accounted. 

“Our findings are potentially important because adolescence has been identified as one of the critical periods of development that set the stage for the onset of obesity later in life,” Dr. Erica P. Gunderson of Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, California and her colleagues write in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.

It is known that adult women face risks of obesity as a result of pregnancy, but this new evidence points out that adolescents who bear children show signs of greater influence on body weight and fat accumulation, Gunderson and her team indicated in their analysis. 

The research team investigated 1,890 women who participated in a ten-year national study of growth and health beginning at age 9 or 10.

Statistics revealed 17 percent had given birth to one child when they were between ages 15 and 19; 4 percent had more than one child during these ages; 10 percent conceived but didn’t deliver a child; and 69 percent did not get pregnant.

Of the 983 African-American girls involved in the study, 43 percent got pregnant in their teenage years, compared to 19 percent of the 907 Caucasian girls in the study.   

Taken as a whole, by age 18 or 19, 28 percent of the Caucasian women and 49 percent of the African-American women were overweight or obese. For those women who gave birth in their teens, 40 percent of Caucasians and 57 percent of African-Americans were overweight or obese. 

For the African-American women who had one or more babies as teenagers, they weighed much more, had larger waists, larger hips, and more body fat than teens that did not get pregnant. 

Caucasian women faced comparable trends for waist size and body fat.

Gunderson and her research team write, “The excessive fat deposition during adolescence may signal the onset and persistence of obesity and elevated insulin, lipid and blood pressure levels into adulthood,”  indicating further that women who give birth for the first time at age 20 or younger are also more likely to be at greater risk for heart disease. 

It is necessary to seek further research on the consequences of weight gain during teen pregnancy to accurately understand it effects on growth and fat accumulation, the team concluded. 

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