In this paper, we systematically reviewed published studies to ascertain the effectiveness of interventions to improve nutrition among pregnant adolescents.
We selected existing randomized, quasi-randomized and before/after studies, in which nutrition interventions were directed towards the pregnant adolescents. The titles and abstracts of all studies identified and studies that met the inclusion criteria were selected and double data abstracted on a standardized abstraction sheet. We conducted meta-analysis for individual studies using the software Review Manager 5.3.
A total of sixteen studies were included. The study participants were low income, pregnant adolescents from prenatal clinics in urban areas in Chile, Ecuador, USA or Canada, between the ages of 13-20 years. The intervention strategies mainly involved provision of micronutrient supplementation such as calcium and zinc, in addition to the routine iron folic acid supplementation to adolescent mothers or engaging them in nutritional education sessions to enable them to improve nutritional intake. Long-term nutritional counseling was frequently employed, whereby pregnant adolescents would have access to a nutritionist whom they would consult as part of antenatal care. Pooled data from moderate to low quality evidence suggested a small but significant improvement in mean birth weight (MD: 0.25 g, 95% CI: 0.08, 0.41) , reduced LBW (birthweight <2500g) (RR: 0.70, 95% CI: 0.57,0.84) and preterm birth (before 37 weeks) (RR: 0.73, 95% CI: 0.57, 0.95).
There is sufficient evidence suggeting an impact of targeting pregnant adolescents on birth outcomes.