Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Public Affairs and Administration

First Advisor

Dr. Kathleen M. Reding

Second Advisor

Dr. Peter Kobrak

Third Advisor

Dr. Kenneth R. Wilcox


Teenage pregnancy is a critical health indicator. Using a risk reduction model, this study examined the relationship between the characteristics o f the teenage mother i and her newborn. The research questions were: ( I) what risk factors are associated with poor birth outcomes, (2) is addressing each factor the best way to reduce the risk, and (3) has the overall risk changed as the birth rate has declined? Developmental, psychosocial and economic risks were identified as independent variables, while age and race were mediators.

Combining the birth certificate records of women under age 20 from 1990 through 1997 resulted in a population of 136,973 cases. Births to 20-24 year olds in 1993 were analyzed for comparison. The birth weight o f 91 percent of the babies was normal. Over 81 percent of the babies were term births. Ninety four percent survived past the first week of life. Ninety seven percent had no congenital anomalies, and 90 percent had no newborn illnesses.

While most pregnancy outcomes were healthy, there were areas of concern: (a) 3,000 babies were born to teenagers under age 15, (b) 18,070 were premature, (c) 38 percent o f births were to black teens, in a population that is 18% black. tested the relationship between variables and outcome, and a ratio o f risk to non-risk was calculated. Odds ratios of low weight gain, inadequate prenatal care or a prenatal medical condition in the mother revealed 2-3 times greater risk of poor birth outcomes. No identified father, living in an urban area or in a higher income county produced twice the risk. Being non-white with no identified father put the teen at twice the risk of a poor outcome; being non-white and living in a higher income county had twice the risk.

Trend analysis of the data showed no differences in outcomes or risk factors corresponding to the declining birth rate. So the fact that fewer teens are having babies has not affected the risk of a poor birth outcome.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access