Health Care Program for First-Time Adolescent Mothers and their Infants

Updated: Nov 21, 2017
Evidence Rating:
Suggestive Tier


  • Program:

    A health care program for first-time, teenage mothers that provides counseling on birth control and education on basic parenting and child health.

  • Evaluation Methods:

    A single well-conducted randomized controlled trial (RCT) with a sample of 243 teen mothers age 17 or under.

  • Key Findings:

    The program cut the rate of repeat pregnancy by more than half and nearly doubled the rate of child immunization at follow-up 18 months after random assignment.

The program, as evaluated in the study described in our full evidence summary, served teenage girls who gave birth at Philadelphia’s Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania from 1987-2002.  During regularly-scheduled well-baby health check-ups, teen mothers received additional services, including (i) counseling on birth control methods and referral to a birth control clinic, if appropriate, and (ii) one-on-one education in basic parenting and child health (e.g., how to feed and hold a baby, how to take their temperature) and how to manage minor health problems not requiring emergency care (e.g., runny noses, diaper rash, etc.).  These services were provided by a team headed by a masters-level nurse practitioner, which included trained volunteers and part-time help from another masters-level nurse practitioner, a pediatrician, and a social worker. After any missed appointment, mothers received regular reminder letters and phone calls for up to eight weeks.

The cost of the program was approximately $493 per adolescent mother over 18 months, in 2017 dollars. [1]

Hospitals and other organizations seeking to implement this program can purchase program materials and technical assistance here.

To see our full evidence summary:
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[1] This is the total cost of providing eight regularly-scheduled well-baby visits incorporating the program elements described above.  It does not, however, include the initial cost of training the program delivery team.

O’Sullivan, Ann L. and Barbara S. Jacobsen. “A Randomized Trial of a Health Care Program for First-Time Adolescent Mothers and Their Infants.” Nursing Research, July/August 1992, vol. 41, no. 4, pp. 210-215.