Research Article: Adverse neonatal outcomes of adolescent pregnancy in Northwest Ethiopia

Date Published: June 13, 2019

Publisher: Public Library of Science

Author(s): Getachew Mullu Kassa, A. O. Arowojolu, A. A. Odukogbe, Alemayehu Worku Yalew, Mahama Saaka.


Adolescents have physical, social and psychological characteristics that are different from adults. Adolescent pregnancy results in pregnancy and childbirth complications- an area neglected in developing countries like Ethiopia. This study, therefore, was conducted to assess the adverse neonatal outcomes of adolescent pregnancy in Northwest Ethiopia.

Institutional-based study was conducted in East Gojjam zone, Northwest Ethiopia. A total of 374 adolescent (15–19 years) and 760 adult (20–34 years) women were included in this study. Data were collected among women who came to randomly selected health facilities in East Gojjam zone. Data were collected by trained research assistants using a structured data collection questionnaire. Descriptive statistics, chi-square test, and Student’s t-tests were utilized. Bivariate and multivariable logistic regression analysis were employed to adjust for confounding factors of adverse neonatal outcomes. Statistical significance was declared when the p-value was less than 0.05.

Higher proportion of adolescent than adult women were from rural area (57.2% vs 44.7%), were not married (5.1% vs 1.7%), were pregnant for the first time (91.7% vs 34.1%), didn’t attend antenatal care (ANC) follow-up (12% vs 4.5%), and had late initiation of ANC follow-up. After adjusting for known confounding factors, the odds of low birth weight (LBW) was higher among adolescents than adult women (AOR 2.14; 95% CI, 1.36, 3.36, p-value = 0.001). Similarly, the odds of preterm birth was higher among adolescents than adult women (AOR 1.65; 95% CI, 1.09, 2.49, p-value = 0.017). There was no statistically significant difference in the rate of low Apgar score at first and five minutes after birth and neonatal Intensive Care Unit (ICU) admission between babies born from adolescent and adult women.

Adolescent women were less likely to receive ANC service. Babies born from adolescent women are at higher odds of adverse neonatal outcomes like LBW and preterm birth than babies born from adult women. Use of community- and health facility-based intervention programs that can prevent adolescent pregnancy and reduce adverse neonatal outcomes among adolescent girls is recommended.

Partial Text

Adolescent pregnancy is defined as pregnancy that occurs among adolescents aged 10–19 [1, 2]. The rate of pregnancy among adolescents is increasing, especially in developing countries, with higher adverse health outcomes [3]. More than 11 percent of births globally were because of adolescent mothers [4, 5]. Previous studies have shown that adolescent pregnancy is associated with physical, social problems [2], and affects the economic status of girls, their families, and countries [2, 6].

This study was conducted to assess the adverse neonatal outcomes of adolescent pregnancy in northwest Ethiopia. A significant difference in socio-demographics, obstetric characteristics and newborn outcomes between adolescent and adult women was found. Sociodemographic factors like residence, school attendance, level of education attended, educational status of the father, and marital status were significantly different between adolescent and adult women. A higher proportion of adolescent women had lower mean age at first pregnancy and didn’t attend ANC during pregnancy.