-- Randy Dotinga
THURSDAY, Oct. 17 (HealthDay News) -- Children born to teen
mothers may have a slight language delay compared to children born
to mothers in their late 20s and 30s, but they are not
disadvantaged intellectually, a new British study suggests.
The researchers examined statistics from the Millennium Cohort
Study, which tracked 19,000 kids born in the United Kingdom in 2000
and 2001. Of those, 12,000 underwent testing of their spatial,
verbal and nonverbal skills when they were 5 years old.
The researchers found that differences in nonverbal and spatial
skills of kids born to younger mothers versus older mothers
disappeared when they took into account factors such as household
income, education level of the mother, absence of a father and
But the researchers did find a difference in verbal skills
between the children born to teen mothers and those born to mothers
aged 24 to 34. They said, however, that the apparent developmental
delay dropped from 11 months to five months when they considered
social and perinatal factors.
"Being a teenage mother significantly limits one's ability to gain further education and higher-level employment, which may in turn affect child development," the researchers said.
Mothers 18 and younger made up just 5 percent of the mothers
included in the study. Twenty percent were aged 19 to 24, 28
percent were aged 25 to 29 and 35 percent were aged 30 to 35. Women
35 and older made up 12 percent of the mothers.
The study, published Oct. 16 in the journal
Archives of Disease in Childhood, uncovered differences
between the groups in terms of medical care and baby care. For
instance: Teen mothers were more likely than older mothers to have
their pregnancy confirmed after 30 weeks -- 2 percent of teens
compared to 1 percent of mothers 30 to 34. The teen mothers also
were much more likely to have no prenatal care (7 percent) compared
to the older group (1 percent).
Extended breast-feeding, which is considered beneficial for
children, also was less common in the younger mothers. Just 7
percent of teenage moms breast-fed their infants for four or more
months compared to 41 percent of mothers aged 30 to 34.
The authors said more research is warranted.
For more about
teen motherhood, try the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
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