Results of a recent study show that women who give birth as teenagers are more likely to be obese later in life than women who have their first child after age 20 years.
The study, published online on April 15, 2013, in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology
, analyzed links between teen pregnancies and obesity using the 2001-2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The researchers studied women aged 20 to 59 years who had at least 1 live birth.
After adjusting for race, education, and age, they found that 44% of women who had their first child as a teenager were obese, while 35% of women who had their first child at age 20 years or later were obese. Women who had experienced teen pregnancy were 32% more likely to be obese later in life than women who gave birth after age 20 years.
Although the results show a connection, the researchers admit that the study does not prove that teen pregnancy causes obesity and that more research should be done.
“These findings indicate that we need to start considering the long-term health risks of teen childbirth, as well as short-term risks, in health and policy discussions about teen pregnancy,” said lead author Dr. Tammy Chang, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation clinical scholar at the University of Michigan, in a foundation news release. “And now we know that long-term risks include obesity later in adulthood.”