Black Teens More Likely to Have Preemies

Study finds they're also more likely to have babies with low birth weight

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FRIDAY, Sept. 5, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- Black American teens are twice as likely to have low birth weight babies and 1.5 times more likely to have premature babies than white teens, says a Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health study.

Researchers compared the birth outcomes of 1,120 black American teens, age 17 and younger, living in Baltimore to national data on pregnant white teens. The study appears in the August issue of the Journal of Pediatrics.

The researchers identified a number of characteristics and risk factors related to poor outcomes in the group of urban black teens. They included low pre-pregnancy body mass index, inadequate weight gain during pregnancy, inadequate utilization of prenatal care, a history of cigarette smoking and the presence of sexually transmitted diseases.

"This study shows the need for effective intervention programs to reduce the risk factors contributing to low birth weight and other poor pregnancy outcomes in this population," principal investigator Kimberly O'Brien says in a news release.

"In the long run, it costs more to pay for the health-care costs associated with low birth weight and premature babies than to focus on prevention. There's not enough attention given to this vulnerable group," O'Brien says.

Premature babies born before 37 weeks of gestation and babies born weighing less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces may face serious health problems and developmental problems later in life.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about premature birth.

SOURCE: Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, news release, Aug. 29, 2003

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