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Teen Dads Tied to Babies' Health Risks

Teenage fathers may be more likely than older men to have
babies that have lower birth weight and a higher death rate.

That news comes from a study posted online in Human Reproduction.
It's one of few studies to focus on teenage fathers.

The study included data on 2.8 million U.S. babies born from 1995 to 2000 to
women in their 20s. The researchers focused on women in their 20s because
they're less likely than teen girls to have risky births.

Most of the babies were fathered by men in their 20s or 30s. But more than
28,000 babies were fathered by men younger than 20.

Compared with babies fathered by men in their 20s, babies fathered by teens were more likely to have these risks:

  • Preterm birth

  • Low birth weight

  • Small size for their gestational age

  • Less healthy at birth

  • Higher death rate from birth through their first birthday

The researchers aren't blaming teenage fathers for those problems. The data
don't reveal everything about the parents' health, class, lifestyle, and other

But biology might play a role, according to the researchers.

Men younger than 25 are more likely than older men to have immature sperm,
which "might be associated with an increased risk of adverse birth
outcomes," write Xi-Kuan Chen, MD, PhD, and colleagues. Chen works in the
obstetrics and gynecology department at Canada's University of Ottawa.

By Miranda Hitti
Reviewed by Louise Chang
©2005-2006 WebMD, Inc. All rights reserved

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