To determine if the prepregnancy characteristics, pregnancy course, and outcome of Hispanic adolescents differed from their black and Anglo peers, we retrospectively reviewed the pregnancies of all adolescents ≤17 years old who delivered in 1985-86 at The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. The sample of 1,080 teenagers included 254 (23.5%) Hispanics, 329 (30.5%) blacks, and 497 (46%) Anglos. Hispanic adolescents differed from their peers at the onset of pregnancy in that they were more likely to be married, less educated, and physically shorter. Similarities among adolescents of all three ethnicities included number of clinic visits, mean gestational age when care began, mean weight gain in pregnancy, mean 1-minute Apgar scores, and the percentage of pre-term deliveries, cesarean sections, and stillborns. Infants born to black teenagers had significantly lower birth weights than Hispanics and Anglos, although the incidence of pre-term births for black infants was lower in our sample than for infants of other black adolescents ≤17 years in our geographic region. The incidence of low birthweight (LBW) infants was higher among Hispanic teenagers in our sample than that reported for teenagers of Mexican origin. Attention should be focused on factors that may explain the ethnic differences among pregnant teenagers, such as the effect of acculturation, analysis of dietary intake based on cultural preferences and family and environmental factors, sociocultural factors influencing decisions about marital status, educational achievement, and motherhood. An urgent need in this population is for pregnancy prevention, particularly among the very young Hispanic and black adolescents.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Obstetrics and Gynecology