Does maternal age affect pregnancy outcome?: a study in Tanzania

Document Type



Obstetrics and Gynaecology (East Africa)


The objective was to estimate the effect of teenage and elderly maternal age on the incidence of labour interventions and perinatal outcome in Muhimbili National hospital, Tanzania. Included were all nulliparous mothers aged 12–50 years (n=43 167) who gave birth to singleton babies at the hospital during 1999–2005.

Recorded data from the electronic database was analyzed. Bivariate and multiple logistic regression analyses were performed to estimate the effect of teenage (12–19 years) and elderly age (35–50 years) on pregnancy risk factors and as outcome variables with reference to the traditional low risk age group (20–34 years).

Overall teenagers had the lowest incidence of risk factors. Compared to the low risk age group mothers teenagers were at increased risk for low birth weight (OR 1.4; 95% CI 1.11–1.68) but lower odds for blood loss, caesarean delivery and use of oxytocin. Elderly mothers had higher risk for low birth weight (OR 1.4; 95% CI 1.12–1.78) and caesarean delivery (OR 2.69; 95% CI 2.20–3.30). The elderly age mothers also had significantly more blood loss in excess of 500ml which was a result of the high caesarean section rate.

Teenagers, unlike the elderly mothers group, have no increased risks for labour and delivery complications that demand higher level facilities with comprehensive obstetric care services.


This work was published before the author joined Aga Khan University.


African Journal of Midwifery and Women's Health