205344 Infant mortality and maternal age: Are young adolescents at the highest risk?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Kate C. Riera, MS , Department of Family Science, School of Public Health, University of Maryland, College Park, College Park, MD
Sandra Hofferth, PhD , Department of Family Science, University of Maryland, College Park, College Park, MD
Infant mortality is a strong indicator of a nation's health, and, as such, is a primary area of public health concern. This study examines the age of the mother in relation to infant mortality using a nationally representative sample from the linked birth/infant death data set available through the National Center for Health Statistics. Younger mothers such as teens and adolescents have been shown to be more at risk for poor health outcomes such as preterm birth, low birth weight, or other perinatal complications. This study groups adolescence into early adolescence (10-14 years), middle adolescence (15-17 years), and late adolescence (18-19 years) in comparison to adulthood (20+ years). Proportional hazards event history analysis models were developed to compare the risk of infant mortality for each of the adolescent age categories, while controlling for several demographic, social, and health variables. Initial results indicate that while, overall, adolescent mothers had an infant mortality rate that was 66% higher than adult mothers, the proportional hazard analysis showed that only those in late adolescence had a significantly higher risk for infant mortality during the first year as compared to adult mothers. Not receiving prenatal care or having an infant born low birth weight significantly explained this risk. Results have implications for policies and programs targeting adolescents and suggest that focusing on those in late adolescence, particularly in accessing prenatal care and social support, may be the most beneficial for reducing risk of infant mortality.

Learning Objectives:
1. Analyze the relationship between maternal age groups and the risk of infant mortality. 2. Discuss the policy and programmatic implications for factors associated with risk of infant mortality.

Keywords: Infant Mortality, Adolescents

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am completing my third year of doctoral study in the Department of Family Science, in the School of Public Health at the University of Maryland. I have pursued a concentration in Maternal and Child Health and have completed multiple academic projects on adolescent pregnancy and health, as well as risk of infant mortality. I am currently preparing a manuscript on this subject for publication in conjunction with my advisor.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.