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Teen/adolescent pregnancy and under-nutrition

This question was posted the Adolescent nutrition forum area and has 1 replies.

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Anne Holmes

DS, Irish Aid

Normal user

19 Jun 2018, 08:05

Hi, is there a documented link between rates and severity of under-nutrition (for mothers, infants and children), and the age at which a girl/woman first becomes pregnant?
If yes, very grateful if colleagues could point me in the direction of relevant research or articles - including recommended strategies for addressing the issue.
If there are documents that relate to Malawi or the southern African region in general that would be particularly useful.
Many thanks

Natasha Lelijveld

Research Fellow

Technical expert

19 Jun 2018, 15:27

Hi,

yes, there is a well-established link between young age at child birth and risk of under nutrition in infants. The infants are more likely to be low birth weight, have higher risk of SAM and stunting, and more likely to perform poorly at school.

Here are some relatively recent publications on the topic, including African countries:

https://data.unicef.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Paper-Child-marriage-and-nutrition-Global-Health-Action.pdf

https://www.thelancet.com/journals/langlo/article/PIIS2214-109X(15)00038-8/fulltext

Regarding the risk to mother's own nutrition, less is published on this area, but it makes sense to believe that pregnancy during adolescence will disrupt growth. This publication (although Asian-based) found that adolescent pregnancy ceased linear growth and resulted in weight loss and depletion of fat and lean body mass of young girls:

https://academic.oup.com/jn/article/138/8/1505/4750805

Delaying age of first pregnancy could therefore have huge benefits for both adolescent and infant growth and nutrition.

And here is an interesting paper from Mark Manary's "Mama Chiponde" study in Malawi showing the additional risk to nutritional status of being pregnant at a young age: https://nyaspubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/nyas.13465

Natasha

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