Adolescent pregnancy outcomes at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital, Malawi: a cross-sectional study

Tamala Chaura1*, Donnie Mategula1,2, Luis Aaron Gadama1

  1. Kamuzu University of Health Sciences, Malawi
  2. Malawi-Liverpool Wellcome Trust, Kamuzu University of Health Sciences, Malawi

*Corresponding Author: Tamala Chaura, Email;

Malawi has a growing population with a high Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) of 439 per 100,000 live births to which adolescents contribute 25%. Current data suggests adolescent pregnancies in low-resource settings are at an increased risk of both maternal and neonatal morbidity.
This study assessed the pregnancy outcomes amongst adolescents while using women from the early adulthood (20 – 24-year-old) and advanced maternal age (35 years old and above) groups as reference.
This was a cross-sectional study, carried out at the Chatinkha maternity (labour) and post-natal wards at QECH, and included all adolescents (10 – 19 years old) and women between 20 – 24 years old (early adulthood) and 35 years old or older (advanced maternal age), presenting in labor, at any gestational age ≥ 28 weeks or with a birth weight of 1000 grams or above.
The study found the prevalence of adolescent pregnancy to be 20.4% (N=5035) out of all the deliveries during the recruitment period. Sexually transmitted infections were proportionally higher in the adolescent group, with 12% testing HIV seroreactive and 10% syphilis seroreactive. Neonatal outcomes of birth asphyxia (3.5%), low birth weight (5%), prematurity (4.3%) and early neonatal death (4.3%) were not statistically different from the outcomes of the older age groups. The major causes of maternal morbidity were determined to be a high caesarean section rate of 31.9% and intrapartum diagnosis of urinary tract infection (7.4%), malaria (7.4%) and hypertensive disorders (14.5%).
Adolescents are a significant proportion of the pregnant population in Malawi. These adolescents are at increased risk of some pregnancy and peripartum complications when compared to women of older age groups. However, our study determined that these outcomes appear to be more likely related to the peripartum care received and not solely specific to maternal age.
Keywords: Adolescent, Pregnancy, Malawi, Outcomes, Neonatal, Maternal.

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