Young, Low-Income Mothers Face Greater Depression Risks

Posted by Admin on September 26, 2011

Women who give birth before turning 23 face a much greater risk for encountering clinical depression during pregnancy than older mothers, a recent study indicates. In addition, researchers find that younger mothers' children more commonly suffer from emotional problems and have a below-average IQ. These psychological deficits were discovered to be more common among cases where mothers were depressed or smoked during their pregnancies, and in which they did not participate in breast-feeding following childbirth.

Cerith Waters of Cardiff Univesity, claims that young moms are especially vulnerable to depression. These results indicate that they need much more support, not only after birth but before as well. The programs designed to help young mothers need to be multifaceted and they need to begin during pregnancy to address the needs of both the child and the mother.
Cardiff University researchers followed the South London Child Development Study, which focused on 176 families. Child development within these families was carefully tracked for an 11-year period. The families were divided into three groups, according to when the women gave birth to their first child.

Among the families studied, there were 31 teenaged mothers (aged 16 to 19), 56 early-20s mothers (aged 20 to 22), and 89 older mothers (aged 23 to 38). The results of the research indicated that 42 percent of teenage mothers encountered depression during their pregnancy, compared to 36 percent of those in their early 20s and 18 percent of women in the group aged 23 to 38.

The study found that nearly 20 percent of children born to teenage mothers had some form of emotional disorder by age 11, as did 23 percent of children of early-20s mothers and 9 percent of children of older mothers.

More than 50 percent of infants in poverty are raised by mothers suffering with mild to severe depression, which could contribute to developmental problems amongst the children. Depression overall is not uncommon for women with infants in all income brackets. Overall, 41% of women reported suffering with depression symptoms and 7% reported severe symptoms.

The study used nationally representative data from a federal education survey of 14,000 children born in 2001. The women were interviewed when their infants reached the age of nine-months. Low-income participants were predominantly in their early 20s, with more than 50% being below the age of 24. The group suffering from severe depression was 44% white, 30% black, and 21% Hispanic. This group had a heightened risk for drug use and domestic violence than other low-income mothers who were not depressed.

The researchers discovered that one out of nine infants in poverty had a mother suffering from severe depression, and that only 87% of them were breastfed for fewer than four months. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants be breastfed at least through their first year. According to researchers, at least 70% of women with depression need professional help, but only 30% of women reported seeking the aid of a professional during the year leading up to the survey.


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