Complications with Teenage Pregnancy

Updated at: Oct 26, 2013
Complications with Teenage Pregnancy

Teenage mothers have increased risk of pregnancy complications that can cause health issues for both mother and child.

Gunjan Rastogi
PregnancyWritten by: Gunjan RastogiPublished at: May 22, 2012

Teenage pregnancy can be taxing for the mother as well as her baby. Health risks of teenage pregnancy are the result of physical unpreparedness for pregnancy in addition to unhealthy lifestyle choices, such as smoking and drug abuse. Read ahead to know the various complications with teenage pregnancy:



As per WHO guidelines, an ideal haemoglobin concentration of a normal age pregnant woman is 11.0 g/dl. A woman with concentration lesser than this indicates that she is anaemic regardless of age. However, prevalence of anaemia has been found to be higher in those who conceive in adolescence than women who conceive in their 20s or 30s. Teenage pregnancy and anaemia are not correlated. The higher incidence of anaemia in teenage mothers is due to their poor eating habits that cause iron and folic acid deficiencies. Thus, they become prone to anaemia. Anaemia is a potent threat to maternal health and may cause maternal death.

Premature Birth

Adolescent mothers are at an increased risk of not completing the three trimesters of pregnancy.  They usually give birth before 37th week of pregnancy. According to WHO reports, even teenage mothers who get proper prenatal care and adequate nutrition are at the risk of delivering a preterm infant. WHO has said that the risk for premature delivery is higher among African American teenage mothers than Caucasian mothers. Premature delivery does not only put the mother at various health risks, but it is also a major cause of neonatal death and infant morbidity.


Low Birth Weight


Infants of teenage mothers are usually of low birth weight .i.e. their birth weight is less than 5.5 pounds. Lifestyle issues, such as smoking, drinking, and improper nutrition pertain to more low birth weight infants in teenage mothers than mothers over 25.  It has been found that smoking during pregnancy is common practice among adolescent pregnant women than pregnant women in their 20s or 30s.  In addition, poor eating habits increase the chances of low birth weight. According to Western Michigan University, almost 10 per cent of teenage mothers deliver a low birth weight baby.   Such babies are much more likely to suffer from poor health conditions, behavioural and psychiatric problems.

High Blood Pressure

During pregnancy, the increased demand for blood flow becomes a threat to a teenage mother’s undeveloped cardiovascular system. In teenage, the body is underdeveloped to properly nourish a child and bear the bodily strains of pregnancy. Thus, undeveloped cardiovascular system fails to manage the extra circulatory load. This may lead to experience of high blood pressure or pregnancy induced hypertension (PIH). Sometimes, even treatment fails to control high blood pressure and thus, the condition develops into preeclampsia.  In this condition, not only does blood pressure remain high, teenage mothers will also experience body inflammation and they will release protein in the urine.


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