Adolescent Pregnancy and Parenting: Findings from a Racially Diverse Sample

By Patricia L. East; Marianne E. Felice | Go to book overview

Chapter 3
Short-Interval Repeat Pregnancy

Almost 30% of all first-time adolescent mothers have a second child within 2 years after their first delivery ( Hayes, 1987; Mott, 1986; Zelnik, 1980). Subsequent pregnancies of adolescent mothers have been related to even more adverse health consequences than a first birth, including a higher incidence of low birthweight, premature, and stillborn infants, and a higher rate of infant mortality ( Jekel, Harrison, Bancroft, Tyler, & Klerman, 1975; McCormick et al., 1984). Jekel et al. reported that subsequent infants born to women in their teens have a rate of neonatal death almost 9 times that of firstborn infants of teenage mothers. Twentyseven percent of the subsequent infants in the Jekel et al. study were low birthweight, or below 2,500 grams, which was over twice the number of low birthweight firstborn infants. Furthermore, 32% of subsequent infants of low birthweight died compared to 9% of low birthweight firstborn infants ( Jekel et al., 1975). For the mother, subsequent childbearing brings unfavorable educational and economic outcomes, such as a decreased likelihood of school completion and higher rates of unemployment and welfare dependency for several years following the childbearing ( Furstenberg, 1976a, 1976b; Moore & Waite, 1977; Mott, 1986; Polit & Kahn, 1986; Trussell & Menken, 1978; Upchurch & McCarthy, 1989). Women whose first birth occurs during the teenage years tend to have larger families, and family size is a strong predictor of welfare recipiency ( Moore, Hofferth, Wertheimer, Waite, & Caldwell, 1981). A teen with two children is much more likely than even a teen with one child to drop out of school and to go on welfare ( Maynard & Rangarajan, 1994).

The adverse health, educational, and economic consequences of subsequent pregnancy are even greater when the pregnancy takes place within 12 months of an earlier birth ( McCormick et al., 1984; Mott, 1986). One of the factors possibly leading to the higher rates of prematurity and perinatal death among infants conceived soon after delivery is that the young mother may not have had enough

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