Investigating the Relationship between Teenage Childbearing and Psychological Distress Using Longitudinal Evidence

University of Colorado at Boulder, Institute of Behavioral Science, Boulder, CO 80309-0483, USA.
Journal of Health and Social Behavior (Impact Factor: 2.72). 10/2009; 50(3):310-26. DOI: 10.1177/002214650905000305
Source: PubMed


The high levels of depression among teenage mothers have received considerable research attention in smaller targeted samples, but a large-scale examination of the complex relationship between adolescent childbearing and psychological distress that explores bidirectional causality is needed. Using the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) and the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study--Birth Cohort, we found that teenage mothers had higher levels of distress than their childless adolescent peers and adult mothers, but the experience of teenage childbearing did not appear to be the cause. Rather teenage mothers' distress levels were already higher than their peers before they became pregnant, and they remained higher after childbearing and into early and middle adulthood. We also found that distress did not increase the likelihood of adolescent childbearing except among poor teenagers. In this group, experiencing high levels of distress markedly increased the probability of becoming a teenage mother Among nonpoor teenage girls, the relationship between distress and subsequent teenage childbearing was spurious.

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Available from: Stefanie Mollborn, Mar 24, 2014
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    • "The quality of the teen mother's relationship with her own mother may have important influences on both her parenting and her coparenting relationship with her child's father (Black & Nitz, 1996; Eshbaugh, 2008; Eshbaugh & Luze, 2007; Gavin et al., 2002). Due to their developmental stage, teens are also less likely than adults to have strong communication and interpersonal skills that foster well-functioning relationships (LeTourneau, Stewart, & Barnfeather, 2004; Mollborn & Morningstar, 2009; Moore & Florsheim, 2001). Given this body of research, we expect that an intervention designed to facilitate and support positive coparenting skills in this more vulnerable group of parents may have important positive effects on fathers' involvement with their children, on mothers' and fathers' psychological adjustment and parenting behavior, and on the behavioral health of their children. "
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    ABSTRACT: Teen childbearing is associated with a range of adverse outcomes for both mothers and children, and perpetuates an intergenerational cycle of socioeconomic disadvantage. Fathers may be an underappreciated source of support to teen mothers and their children. The strongest and most consistent predictor of positive father involvement is a positive coparenting relationship between the mother and father. Thus, strengthening the coparenting relationship of teen parents may be protective for both parents and children. This paper describes the rationale, the intervention model, and the cultural adaptation of Strong Foundations, an intervention designed to facilitate and enhance positive coparenting in teen parents. Adapted from an evidence-based coparenting program for adult, cohabiting parents, this intervention was modified to be developmentally and culturally appropriate, acceptable, and feasible for use with urban, low-income, minority expectant teen mothers and their male partners. The authors present lessons learned from the cultural adaptation of this innovative intervention. Pilot testing has shown that this model is both acceptable and feasible in this traditionally hard to reach population. Although recruitment and engagement in this population present specific challenges, young, urban minority parents are deeply interested in being effective coparents, and were open to learning skills to support this goal.
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    • "On the one hand, serious health limitations or disability in early life may restrict opportunities for partnership and parenthood (Kiernan 1989) and lifestyle-related factors such as heavy alcohol consumption and obesity may also influence partnership trajectories and are known to reduce fecundity, as well as being associated with health (Sallmen et al. 2006). On the other hand, numerous studies have shown that childhood disadvantages of various kinds, including poorer physical or mental health, are strongly associated with early parenthood (Hobcraft and Kiernan 2001; Henretta et al. 2008; Hobcraft 2008; Mollborn and Morningstar 2009), itself associated with higher overall parity. Educational status is associated both with fertility trajectories and with health and :// "
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