Research recently published in the Journal of the American Heart Association led by Catherine Pirkle, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Office of Public Health Studies at the University of Hawaii at Manoa in Honolulu, shows that women who became mothers for the first time as teenagers may be at a much greater risk of cardiovascular disease than older first-time mothers.
In the study, data available on 1,047 women between 65 and 74 years old, from Albania, Brazil, Canada, and Colombia were examined. The conclusion of the study found that women who had their first pregnancy before the age of 20 had a much greater long-term risk of cardiovascular disease than women who became mothers after that age. The authors of the study admit, however, that the study has some limitations.
"Especially for Brazil and Colombia, where premature mortality was high when these women were younger, there is a possibility that we only selected 'survivors' for our study," Prof.. Pirkle said. So, “it is possible that women who were at highest risk of cardiovascular disease mortality died before we could recruit them to our study. This is termed survivor bias," she continued. Explaining result, the authors of the study said that “pregnancy and childbirth during a critical developmental period such as adolescence, compared to adulthood, permanently alters certain physiological pathways in ways that may be harmful to the heart over time." Social and behavioral consequences of adolescent childbearing are also considered. Adolescents who have children early in life may have [fewer] opportunities to finish school and to earn sufficient incomes over their lifetimes. They are susceptible to have more unhealthy stress and engage in poorer behaviors, including smoking.