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Title: Does Young Motherhood Predict Child Behavior Problems?
Resulting in 1 citation.
1. Fessler, Kathryn Bondy
Heflin, Colleen M.
Does Young Motherhood Predict Child Behavior Problems?
Presented: Seattle, WA, Pediatric Academy Societies Annual Meeting, May 2003
Cohort(s): Children of the NLSY79
Publisher: American Pediatric Society
Keyword(s): Adolescent Fertility; Age at Birth; Age at First Birth; Behavior Problems Index (BPI); Grandparents; Mothers, Education; Mothers, Income; Poverty

Permission to reprint the abstract has not been received from the publisher.

OBJECTIVE: We will address the effect of maternal age at birth on behavior problems in young children. Previous work suggests that young maternal age will predict an increase in behavioral difficulties. We propose to determine whether this relationship will be maintained once other relevant social factors have been considered, such as the poverty status of the mother, and the education level of the mother and the child's grandparents.

DESIGN/METHODS: We use data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY), a nationally representative sample of 14-21 year olds in 1978. Our analysis includes all female respondents from this longitudinal survey who gave birth since 1978. Using Ordinary Least Squares regression for children between the ages of 5 and 7 years of age, we model the child's score on the Behavioral Problems Index (BPI) as a function of mother's age, child characteristics, mother's social characteristics, and grandparent's social characteristics.

RESULTS: We report on several models. In the first, maternal age (age 15-19 at first birth vs age 20 or older) is used as the sole predictor of BPI. Status as a teen mother is highly predictive of a child's later behavioral problems. As control variables are added in subsequent models, the ability of maternal age to predict child behavior problems decreases dramatically. Rather, measures of poverty, mother's level of education, and grandparent's level of education best predict behavioral difficulties in the children.

CONCLUSIONS: A simple model suggests that teen motherhood predicts behavior problems. This relationship disappears when other social factors are considered. This work suggests that adolescent childbearing and parenting cannot be considered in isolation from the factors that promote its occurrence. Pediatricians working with young mothers must consider the larger social influences at work in the lives of adolescents.

Bibliography Citation
Fessler, Kathryn Bondy and Colleen M. Heflin. "Does Young Motherhood Predict Child Behavior Problems?" Presented: Seattle, WA, Pediatric Academy Societies Annual Meeting, May 2003.