Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Child abuse, teenage mums and mental-health problems

Around 270,000 girls under the age of 18 become pregnant each year in the U.S. Such girls are more likely to have experienced abuse from their parents and to suffer victimization (including domestic violence and sexual assault) later. Adolescent mothers are also more at risk of problems such as depression, anxiety, alcohol problems and drug abuse. However, little is known about the pathways between victimization in childhood, victimization later and other problems. Researchers from the University of Washington studied 229 teenage mothers to try and find out more about this. They found that parental child abuse had a negative effect on the teenage mums both in itself and by causing psychological distress and victimization, which in turn led to the girls suffering psychological distress at the end of the two-and-a-half year study. The psychological distress caused by the girls being abused as children was the most important factor leading to psychological distress and victimization at the end of the study rather than substance abuse problems developed in response to being abused by parents.

Lindhorst, Taryn ... [et al] - Mediating pathways explaining psychosocial functioning and revictimization as sequelae of parental violence among adolescent mothers American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 2009, 79(2), 181-190

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