Black Teen Mothers With Depression More Likely Than Non-Depressed Teen Moms To Have Subsequent Pregnancy, Study Finds
Black teen mothers who have depression after giving birth are at higher risk of a subsequent pregnancy than teen mothers who are not depressed, according to a study in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, Reuters reports.
For the study, Beth Barnet and colleagues at the University of Maryland School of Medicine looked at 245 mostly black females ages 12 to 18 who received prenatal care at five community centers. According to Reuters, the teenagers were mostly from low-income families.
Teenage mothers are more than twice as likely as adult mothers to become depressed, Reuters reports. Further, previous research has shown that black teenage mothers have depression at twice the rate of white teen moms. According to Barnet, the racial disparity is likely associated with poverty. Barnet also said that exposure to violence and a drug culture are additional factors for disparities within the study group.
The study found that 46% of the teenagers had symptoms of depression at the beginning of the study. Those who showed such symptoms of depression had a 40% higher risk of a subsequent pregnancy than teenagers who showed no signs of depression.
According to Barnet, depression among teen mothers could cause feelings of fatigue and helplessness that then lead to less use of birth control. In addition, teen mothers with depression might "seek out intimacy with additional sexual relationships," Barnet said.
Of all the teenagers in the study, 120 had another pregnancy within two years of giving birth. The average time span between the pregnancies was slightly more than 11 months, according to the study.
Barnet said, "Teens having a subsequent pregnancy were more likely to be school dropouts; not use condoms consistently at follow-up; and report a relationship with their baby's father, who tended to be older."
She added, "This study provides evidence that depression may be an important independent risk factor for rapid subsequent pregnancy in African-American adolescent mothers" (Conlon, Reuters, 3/3).
An abstract of the study is available online.