Newswise — Pregnant teens in the United States have long been known to face increased health risks and pregnancy complications, but a new study finds for the first time that girls 13 or younger who become pregnant face a higher risk. These very young girls are more likely to have premature birth, caesarean section, and admission to the intensive care unit (ICU) than are older pregnant teens. Researchers from the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) and the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine led the study, which is published today in Journal of the American Medical Association (Gamma).

Researchers examined more than 90,000 birth records of pregnant teens and teenage girls and young women between the ages of 10 and 19, and this is the first study of its kind to compare the differences between younger pregnant girls with those in their mid-teens, and those entering adulthood.

“Our study found that when it comes to childbirth, a pregnant child or a very young teen is not just a ‘young’ teen,” said corresponding study author Catherine E. percent for premature birth and a 32 percent lower risk of cesarean delivery compared to those aged 14 to 17 years.

Results are based on all pregnant patients ages 10 to 19 who were delivered in hospitals in the Premier Healthcare Database, a national resource that includes about a quarter of hospital discharges in the United States, from January 2019 through May 2021. Anthony D. Harris MD, MPH, professor of epidemiology and public health at UMSOM, is also a co-author of this study.

Preterm birth occurred in 18.5 percent of pregnant adolescent girls between the ages of 10 and 13; 11.6 percent of 14-17 year olds; and 10.5 percent of young women between the ages of 18 and 19. About 22 percent of the younger age group gave birth by caesarean section compared to 16.4 percent of adolescents aged 14-17, and 20.1 percent of young women aged 18-19.

The researchers took into account factors that may have led to higher rates in the smaller group, such as race, ethnicity, type of insurance, and obesity status. They found that younger girls had a significantly increased risk compared to teenage girls aged 14 to 17. In terms of the total number, the vast majority of pregnancies – nearly 68,000 – occurred in those ages 18 to 19. The 17-year-old group totaled nearly 23,000, compared to just 206 pregnancies in the 10-13-year-old group. More than two-thirds of the younger age group identified as black or Hispanic.

The study team considers the data they examined in ICU admissions to be preliminary and said the findings require confirmation in future studies. Notably, however, they did find that teens aged 10 to 13 had ICU admission rates three times higher than those aged 14 to 19.

“The outcome of a complex birth is important. It can have lifelong consequences for both the mother and the baby,” said Dr. Goodman. “Mothers who give birth prematurely have a higher likelihood of developing high blood pressure and mental health problems, including postpartum depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. Babies born prematurely have a higher risk of developing neurodevelopmental and respiratory problems.”

The findings are of particular importance as states determine whether to limit access to reproductive health care based on the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade in June.

Benellis, first study author, Beth L. , MD, assistant professor, division of maternal and fetal medicine, division of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine. “We were surprised by how large the effects were, but they make sense due to the biological plausibility of the findings and improved birth outcomes in low- and middle-income countries that have been able to reduce child pregnancies.”

UMSOM Dean Mark T. Gladwin, who is also vice president for medical affairs, University of Maryland, Baltimore, and Distinguished Professors John Z and Akiko Powers, added: “While pregnancy in very young girls remains uncommon in the United States, racial and ethnic disparities remain stark and indicate a need for There is an urgent health need that we as a nation must address in order to close the healthcare inequality gap.”

About the University of Maryland School of Medicine

Now in the third century, the University of Maryland College of Medicine was accredited in 1807 as the first general medical school in the United States. It continues today as one of the world’s fastest growing first-class biomedical research institutions – with 46 academic departments, centers, institutes and programs, a panel of more than 3,000 physicians, scientists, and allied health professionals, including members of the National Academy of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences, and a two-time Distinguished Winner Albert E. Lasker Award in Medical Research. With an operating budget of more than $1.3 billion, the School of Medicine works closely in partnership with the University of Maryland Medical Center and the Medical System to provide extensive research, academic, and clinical care to nearly two million patients each year. The medical school has approximately $600 million in external funding, with most of its academic departments ranking highly among all medical schools in the country in research funding. As one of the seven professional schools that make up the University of Maryland, Baltimore Campus, the medical school has a population of nearly 9,000 faculty and staff members, including 2,500 students, interns, residents, and fellows. The Combined College of Medicine and Medical System (“University of Maryland Medicine”) has a budget of more than $6 billion and an economic impact of nearly $20 billion on the state and community. Faculty of Medicine, which is classified as 8 top Among the public medical schools in research productivity (according to the profile of the Association of American Medical Colleges) is an innovator in transformational medicine, with 606 active patents and 52 start-ups. in the last US News & World Report Ranking of Best Medical Schools, published in 2021, UM Medical School is Rank No. 9 Among the 92 general medical colleges In the United States, in the top 15 percent (No. 27) out of 192 general and personal American medical schools. The School of Medicine works locally, nationally, and globally with research and treatment facilities in 36 countries around the world. visit

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