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.
    The Journal of Primary Prevention 03/2015; 36(3). DOI:10.1007/s10935-015-0388-1 · 1.54 Impact Factor
    • "Depression symptoms in pregnancy, and the postpartum period are significantly higher among adolescent mothers compared to adult mothers. Younger age has also been shown to be related to higher postpartum depression symptoms (Figueiredo, Pacheco, & Costa, 2007; Mollborn & Morningstar, 2009). There is also a two-fold increase in the prevalence of depressive disorders in adolescent compared to adult mothers (Miller, Gur, Shanok, & Weissman, 2008). "
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    ABSTRACT: The aim of the current study was to increase understanding of how victimization history impacts the longitudinal course of depression and anxiety in a sample of 55 adolescents emerging into parenthood. Adolescents were interviewed about their victimization experiences during their second trimester of pregnancy, and interviews were subsequently classified according the Maltreatment Classification Scale (Barnett, Manly, & Cicchetti, 1993). Adolescents reported on their symptoms of depression and anxiety prenatally and 6 and 12 months postpartum. Growth curve modeling revealed that, on average, there was a steady linear decline in depression and anxiety symptoms across the transition to parenthood, with a rate of change of 25% and 20%, respectively, from the prenatal assessment to 12 months postpartum. Sexual abuse history attenuated the likelihood of a decrease in depressive symptoms over time. Neglect history was associated with higher prenatal levels of anxiety, as well as a steeper decline in anxiety symptoms over time. Future research is needed to determine the role of poly-victimization in predicting the onset and change of depression and anxiety symptoms. Findings from the current study have the potential to aid in the design of preventative and intervention efforts to reduce risks of mental health difficulties in adolescent parents.
    Child Abuse & Neglect 05/2014; DOI:10.1016/j.chiabu.2014.04.002 · 2.47 Impact Factor
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    • "Adolescent mothers were found to spend most of their young adult years parenting alone and impoverished (Maynard 1996), suggesting many adolescent mothers lack the resources and social support that can alleviate stressors associated with raising a young child. Additionally, rates of depression in adolescent mothers are higher than rates found for adult mothers of young children and non-parenting adolescents (Barnet et al. 1996; Lanzi et al. 2009; Mollborn and Morningstar 2009; Wilhelm 2006). Positive outcomes for both mother and child are associated with high levels of social support (Logsdon et al. 2002). "
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    ABSTRACT: Rates of teenage pregnancies are higher for African American and Latina adolescents compared to their White peers. African American and Latina adolescent mothers also experience more adversities than their White peers, such as higher rates of depression, school dropout, and economic disadvantage. Furthermore, children of adolescent mothers are at higher risk for adverse development. Parenting stress and social support can impact outcomes experienced by adolescent parents and their children. The present study examined the influence of adolescent mothers’ parenting stress and perceived social support on maternal depression at baseline (6 months after birth), and its impact on infant development 1 year later (18 months after birth). Participants were 180 adolescent mothers of African American or Latino/Hispanic descent. Results suggest that higher levels of parenting stress and less perceived social support were associated with higher levels of depression in the adolescent mothers at baseline. Higher levels of maternal depression were also associated with more developmental delays in infants 1 year post-baseline. Additionally, depression mediated the relationship between parenting stress and later child outcomes. These findings highlight the importance of examining parenting factors such as parenting stress, social support, and maternal depression in ethnic minority adolescent parents, and provide valuable information regarding unique risk and protective factors associated with positive maternal outcomes for ethnic minority adolescent parents and healthy development for their children.
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