Journal of Biosocial Science

Research Article

EFFECTS OF AGE, ETHNICITY AND HEALTH BEHAVIOURS ON THE PREVALENCE OF ADVERSE BIRTH OUTCOMES IN TAIWAN

SHU-CHUAN WANGa1 and MUNG-CHIH LEEa2

a1 Department of Medical Sociology and Social Work, Chung Shan Medical University, Taiwan

a2 Department of Medicine, Chung Shan Medical University, Taiwan

Summary

This study sampled 8432 singleton first live births from Taiwan's 2005 Birth Registration Database to determine if there were more pre-term or low birth weight deliveries among aboriginal women than there were among Han Chinese women, and if the ‘weathering’ hypothesis applied to aboriginal women in Taiwan. Although the aboriginal women were socially disadvantaged and engaged in more unhealthy behaviours, including smoking, drinking, chewing betel quid and exposure to second-hand smoke, the evidence did not support the hypothesis that these teenaged minority women would have better birth outcomes, as has been demonstrated among teenage African-American women in the United States. Behaviours and not ethnicity were risk factors for teenage aboriginal mothers, who started deleterious health behaviours earlier than did their older counterparts. Teenage mothers had more adverse outcomes regardless of ethnicity and aboriginal mothers had more risky behaviours in all age groups. The prevalence of detrimental health behaviour among teenage mothers in Taiwan is of concern, particularly for aboriginal teenage mothers.

(Online publication June 07 2012)