The body mass index of teen mothers and their toddler children

Celeste A Lemay, Dianne S Elfenbein, Suzanne B Cashman, Marianne E Felice
Maternal and Child Health Journal 2008, 12 (1): 112-8

OBJECTIVES: To evaluate: change in Body Mass Index (BMI) of adolescent mothers (14-19 years of age) from pre-pregnancy to 36 months postpartum; BMI of their children age 2 or older; relationship between maternal BMI and children's BMI.

METHODS: Retrospective medical record abstraction of adolescent mothers attending a medical program in Massachusetts between 2001 and 2005 who had self-reported pre-pregnancy BMI data at first prenatal visit, at least one BMI measure 12 or more months postpartum, and who did not experience a repeat pregnancy (n = 52). Children of adolescent mothers were included if they had received their 2 (n = 41) and/or 3 (n = 28) year physical.

RESULTS: Adolescent mothers: overweight increased from 25% pre-pregnancy to 33% at 24-36 months postpartum; obesity more than doubled in the same time period, from 15% to 36%. Those with BMI data available pre-pregnancy and postpartum had an increase in mean BMI from 25 pre-pregnancy to 29 at 24-36 months postpartum (P < 0.001). Two-year-old children: About 5% were at risk for overweight and 12% were overweight. Three-year-old children: About 18% were at risk for overweight and 18% were overweight. When BMI categories of children were compared to BMI categories of their mothers, there was a trend for adolescent mothers with overweight/obesity at 24-36 months postpartum to have 3-year-old children at risk for overweight or overweight (P = 0.092).

CONCLUSIONS: There was a significant increase in overweight/obesity in this cohort of adolescent mothers and their children followed 36 months postpartum. The long-term sequelae of overweight/obesity indicates a need for effective interventions.

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