Open Access Research article

Childbearing in adolescence: intergenerational dejà-vu? Evidence from a Brazilian birth cohort

Alexandre Archanjo Ferraro1*, Viviane Cunha Cardoso2, Aline Pires Barbosa2, Antônio Augusto Moura Da Silva3, Carlos Augusto Faria4, Valdinar Souza De Ribeiro5, Heloisa Bettiol2 and Marco Antonio Barbieri2

Author Affiliations

1 Faculty of Medicine, University of São Paulo, Avenida Dr. Enéas Carvalho de Aguiar 647, São Paulo, Brazil

2 Ribeirão Preto School of Medicine, University of São Paulo, Avenida Bandeirantes 3900, Ribeirão Preto, São Paulo, Brazil

3 Departament of Public Health, Federal University of Maranhão, rua Barão de Itapary 155, São Luís, Maranhão, Brazil

4 Faculty of Medicine, Federal Fluminense University, Rua Marques do Paraná 303, Niterói, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

5 Departament of Medicine III, Federal University of Maranhão, Rua dos Prazeres 215, São Luís, Maranhão, Brazil

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BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth 2013, 13:149  doi:10.1186/1471-2393-13-149

Published: 15 July 2013



Pregnancy in adolescence tends to repeat over generations. This event has been little studied in middle and low-income societies undergoing a rapid epidemiological transition. To assess this association it is important to adjust for socioeconomic conditions at different points in lifetime. Therefore, the aim of this study is to analyze the independent effect of adolescent childbearing in a generation on its recurrence in the subsequent generation, after adjusting for socioeconomic status at different points in life.


The study was conducted on a prospective cohort of singleton liveborn females from the city of Ribeirão Preto, Brazil, evaluated in 1978/79, and their daughters assessed in 2002/04. A total of 1059 mother-daughter pairs were evaluated. The women who had their first childbirth before 20 years of age were considered to be adolescent mothers. The risk of childbearing in adolescence for the daughter was modeled as a function of the occurrence of teenage childbearing in her mother, after adjustment for socio-demographic variables in a Poisson regression model.


The rate of childbearing during adolescence was 31.4% in 1978/79 and 17.1% in 2002/04. Among the daughters of the 1st generation adolescent mothers, this rate was 26.7%, as opposed to 12.7% among the daughters of non adolescent mothers. After adjustments the risk of adolescent childbearing for the 2nd generation was 35% higher for women whose mothers had been pregnant during adolescence – RR = 1.35 (95% CI 1.04-1.74).


Adolescent childbearing in the 1st generation was a predictor of adolescent childbearing in the 2nd, regardless of socioeconomic factors determined at different points in lifetime.

Adolescent pregnancy; Socioeconomic predictors; Birth cohort