Employment and health-risk behaviors among pregnant adolescents

V. I. Rickert, C. M. Wiemann, L. A. Goodrum, A. B. Berenson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Study Objectives: To compare health-risk behaviors, maternal, and neonatal outcomes of pregnant adolescents less than 18 years old who reported employment more than 15 hours per week with those who did not report working. We hypothesized that working teens compared with nonworking adolescents would report higher rates of health-risk behaviors. Methods: A structured interview was conducted at the first prenatal visit and the medical chart was reviewed to extract pregnancy (pregnancy-induced hypertension, preterm labor with hospitalization, and preterm delivery) and neonatal outcomes (low birthweight, small for gestational age, and admission to the neonatal intensive care unit). The study was conducted at an outpatient maternal and child health clinic at a university teaching hospital. A total of 384 white (n = 111), African American (n = 151), and Mexican American (n = 99) adolescents, aged 12 to 17 years, who initiated care between January 2, 1992, and December 31, 1994, and delivered an infant at our institution were consecutively sampled. A structured interview assessed various health-risk behaviors including age at first intercourse, substance use (tobacco, alcohol, and other illicit drug use), and number of sexual partners. Medical records were reviewed to obtain information on pregnancy complications (pregnancy-induced hypertension, preterm delivery, and preterm labor with hospitalization) and negative birth outcomes (infant birthweight and neonatal intensive care admission). Results: Controlling for chronological age, logistic regression analyses found that adolescents reporting employment at their first prenatal visit (n = 40) compared with those not employed at this visit (n = 331) were more likely to be characterized by school enrollment, higher economic status, partner employment, partner alcohol use, and a longer relationship with the father of their baby. Multivariate logistic regression found that employed females were 4.6 times more likely to deliver a small-for-gestational-age infant. Conclusions: Employment reported at the time of the first prenatal visit does not appear to be associated with an increase in health-risk behaviors or obstetric complications, but a relationship between working more than 15 hours and small-for-gestational-age delivery was detected.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)79-84
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 1998


  • Adolescent
  • Employment
  • Health-risk behaviors
  • Neonatal outcomes
  • Obstetric complications
  • Pregnancy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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