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

ABSTRACT 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.

Download full-text


Available from: Stefanie Mollborn, Mar 24, 2014
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    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.
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: We used data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study to examine the association between multipartnered fertility (MPF)-when parents have children with more than one partner-and depression. Random effects models suggested that MPF is associated with a greater likelihood of depression, net of family structure and other covariates. However, these associations disappeared in more conservative fixed effects models that estimated changes in MPF as a function of changes in depression. Results also suggested that social selection may account for the link between MPF and depression for fathers (but not mothers), as depressed fathers with no MPF were more likely to have a child by a new partner four years later. Ultimately, MPF and depression may be reciprocally related and part of broader processes of social disadvantage.
    Journal of Marriage and Family 06/2011; 73(3):570-587. DOI:10.1111/j.1741-3737.2011.00828.x · 3.01 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Using data from a panel of 459 women, we find that early parents (< 20 years old at first birth) report higher levels of depressive symptoms in young adulthood (roughly age 29) compared to later parents (first birth in their 20's) or nonparents. Early parenting is also associated with more stressors and fewer resources in young adulthood. As young adults, early parents have lower educational attainment, less secure employment and a weaker sense of personal control; they also experience greater financial strain and more traumatic life events than later and nonparents. By the end of their twenties, early parents are also more likely to be single compared to late parents. The higher levels of depressive symptoms reported among early parents, compared to both later parents and nonparents, are primarily explained by their greater financial strain and lower sense of personal control.
    Advances in Life Course Research 03/2010; 15(1):1-10. DOI:10.1016/j.alcr.2010.05.001 · 1.35 Impact Factor