Adolescents More Prone To Developing Postpartum Depression Than Older Moms

In a study recently published in the journal Pediatrics, researchers found that “adolescent girls with a major mental health disorder are three times more likely to get pregnant than those without a mental illness.”

When paired with the fact that adolescent moms are more prone to developing postpartum depression than older mothers, the scientists who conducted the study say we must improve school-based sex-education programs and integrate them with mental-health care.

Dr. Simone Vigod, lead author of the study said, “This … highlights that girls with major mental health issues are a population that needs to be paid attention to if we really want to optimize the overall health of mothers and babies, and prevent transmission of mental health issues from parent to child and through the generations.”

For my part, I’m pleased that the researchers focused on the continued need to reduce teen pregnancy rates because of the deleterious affect unwanted pregnancy has on this age group. Along with disrupted education and career goals, the researchers point out, “Teen mothers also have an elevated risk of pregnancy complications, including preterm birth, poor fetal growth and postpartum depression.”

While teen pregnancy cuts across ethnic, racial, and economic lines, Dr. Vigod found that “girls from low-income families and those who live in rural areas have a higher risk of teen pregnancy.” She added, “Childhood abuse, low self-esteem, problems with impulsivity, and substance misuse are all risk factors for having a teenaged pregnancy.”

Importantly, the researchers looked for a link between depression and pregnancy and suggested that a teen may find it difficult to say no to a boyfriend because of low self-esteem. In addition, adolescent girls may have trouble asserting themselves to insist that their partner use a condom.

I second the doctor’s recommendation for assertiveness training in sex education, as well as believe there’s a need to empower adolescent girls and work on self-esteem building.

It’s well accepted than women with a history of depression are at greater risk for perinatal depression and anxiety disorders. Add this complication to the life of a teenager, and you can understand the importance of addressing mental health issues.

Let’s support discussing depression as part of teen sex education programs, and also do a better job of screening teen moms for depression and anxiety following childbirth.

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~ by ppdsus on February 28, 2014.

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