Teen Dads Tied to Babies' Health Risks

Babies Born to Teenage Fathers More Likely to Have Lower Birth Weight, Higher Death Rate, Study Shows

By Miranda Hitti
WebMD Health News

Reviewed By Louise Chang, MD

Feb. 7, 2008 -- Teenage fathers may be more likely than older men to have babies that have lower birth weight and a higher death rate.

That news comes from a study posted online in Human Reproduction. It's one of few studies to focus on teenage fathers.

The study included data on 2.8 million U.S. babies born from 1995 to 2000 to women in their 20s. The researchers focused on women in their 20s because they're less likely than teen girls to have risky births.

Most of the babies were fathered by men in their 20s or 30s. But more than 28,000 babies were fathered by men younger than 20.

Compared with babies fathered by men in their 20s, babies fathered by teens were more likely to have these risks:

  • Preterm birth
  • Low birth weight
  • Small size for their gestational age
  • Less healthy at birth
  • Higher death rate from birth through their first birthday

The researchers aren't blaming teenage fathers for those problems. The data don't reveal everything about the parents' health, class, lifestyle, and other factors.

But biology might play a role, according to the researchers.

Men younger than 25 are more likely than older men to have immature sperm, which "might be associated with an increased risk of adverse birth outcomes," write Xi-Kuan Chen, MD, PhD, and colleagues. Chen works in the obstetrics and gynecology department at Canada's University of Ottawa.

SOURCES: Chen, X. Human Reproduction, Feb. 6, 2008; advance online edition.

© 2008 WebMD Inc. All rights reserved.


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