According to UNICEF worldwide every 5th child is born by an adolescent mother and 80% of these so-called teenage pregnancies occur in third world countries. Pregnancies during early adolescence were commonly thought to represent special risks, such as preterm labor, urinary tract infections, anemia, pre-eclampsia, high rate of caesarean sections, preterm birth and low birth weight infants resulting in increased mortality and morbidity of mother and child. Therefore teenage pregnancies are listed among the most important public health problems of the 21st century. This view however was criticized recently. Data from developed countries suggest that an optimal prenatal care eliminates obstetrical risks among adolescent mothers and adverse pregnancy outcome is mainly due to socioeconomic cofactors. This is however not true of developing countries where the majority of teenage childbirths takes place. Teenage pregnancies however are not only of interest from a medical and a social point of view. Biological aspects such as somatic development and growth of the mothers and fetus should be considered. Additionally an evolutionary point of view should not be forgotten. In this review biomedical and social aspects of teenage pregnancies are presented, but also biological and evolutionary factors are discussed.
Keywords: Pregnancy, Viral Hepatitis, chronic hepatitis C, Interferon, Ribavirin, Teenage mothers, pregnancy outcome, newborn size, evolution, industrialized countries, developing countries
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