Girls who give birth between the age group of 15 and 19 are more likely to be overweight, with more abdominal fat, regardless of their childhood weight or of other risk factors for weight gain, according to a new study.
Erica P. Gunderson, Ph.D., of Kaiser Permanente, Oakland, California, and colleagues studied 1,890 girls (983 black and 907 white) who were age 9 to 10 at the beginning of the study in 1987-1988.
After nine to 10 years, in 1996-199, 31 percent of black girls and 10 percent of white girls had given birth during adolescence or young adulthood.
Researchers found that those who gave birth were more likely to experience increases in weight, body mass index, hip circumference and percentage of body fat.
The link was stronger among black women than white women.
"Our findings are potentially important because adolescence has been identified as one of the critical periods of development that set the stage for the onset of obesity later in life," the authors said.
"Earlier age at a first birth (younger than 20 years) has been associated with increased rates of coronary heart disease in women. Thus, the influence of gestational weight gain on changes in growth and adiposity during adolescence is an important aspect for future investigation," they added.
The study has been published in the April issue of Archives of Paediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.