Teenage mothers are at increased risk of preterm delivery, while older moms are more at risk for cesarean section, according to data from Ireland.
“It more or less confirmed what we know from previous studies,” said Dr. Deirdre Murphy, the study’s senior author from Trinity College in Dublin.
But most studies were done years ago and there have been cultural changes among women that might have influenced delivery patterns, Dr. Murphy told Reuters Health.
She and her colleagues examined data on 36,916 primiparas at one Irish hospital between 2000 and 2011. The researchers were especially interested in comparing mothers at the extremes of age to those ages 20 to 34 years.
About 3% of women were 17 years old or younger, and close to 2% were 40 or above. The 20-to-34 group – the control group – comprised 78% of the cohort.
Overall, about 6% of the control group delivered before 37 weeks, compared to about 10% of women in the youngest group.
But only 11% of the youngest group had a C-section, compared to about 54% of the oldest women and 24% of controls.
Babies born to older moms were also more likely to have birth defects and to be admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit.
She and her colleagues conclude in their report that “low caesarean section rates in younger women suggest that a reduction in overall caesarean section rates may be possible.”
But Dr. Loralei Thornburg, a high-risk pregnancy expert at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York, told Reuters Health that older mothers are “less tolerant to any complication and any issues and…more prone to move toward Caesarean delivery.
Dr. Thornburg, who was not involved in the new research, also said that in this study, the older women were also more likely to be overweight and have other traits that would increase their risk for complications during delivery.
— Andrew M. Seaman0