Teenage mothers 'risk premature births'

Teenage mothers are more likely to give birth to premature babies than women in their 20s, a new study has revealed.

If 14 to 17-year-olds were giving birth to their second child, it was more likely to be an early birth, according to Irish researchers who published their findings in the British Medical Council's Pregnancy and Childbirth journal.

The team who led the study said more needed to be done to find out why young mothers were more at risk than those in their 20s.

In the study, researchers looked at data from 14 to 29-year-olds who had given birth in north-west England over a two-year period.

Girls under the age of 17 were 21 per cent more likely to have a premature baby, with the risk rising to 93 per cent for those on their second birth.

Researcher Dr Ali Khashan, from University College Cork, in the Republic of Ireland, said it could be related to "biological immaturity

"."It is also possible that the increased risk of poor pregnancy outcome in the second teenage pregnancy is related to numerous complicating factors such as greater social deprivation and less prenatal care," he added.

According to baby charity Tommy's, eight per cent of babies in England and Wales are premature - born before 37 weeks of pregnancy.