The multigenerational effects of adolescent motherhood on school readiness: A population-based retrospective cohort study

PLoS One. 2019 Feb 6;14(2):e0211284. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0211284. eCollection 2019.


Background: Children born to adolescent mothers generally perform more poorly on school readiness assessments than their peers born to adult mothers. It is unknown, however, whether this relationship extends to the grandchildren of these adolescent mothers. This paper examines the multi-generational outcomes associated with adolescent motherhood by testing whether the grandchildren of adolescent mothers also have lower school readiness scores than their peers; we further assessed if this relationship was moderated by whether the child's mother was an adolescent mother.

Methods: We used population-based data to conduct the retrospective cohort study of children born in Manitoba, Canada, 2000-2009, whose mothers were born 1979-1997 (n = 11,326). Overall school readiness and readiness on five domains of development were analyzed using logistic regression models.

Results: Compared with children whose mothers and grandmothers were both ≥ 20 at the birth of their first child, those born to grandmothers who were < 20 and mothers who were ≥ 20 years old at the birth of their first child had 39% greater odds of being not ready for school (95% CI: 1.22-1.60). Children whose grandmothers were ≥ 20 and mothers were < 20 at the birth of their first child had 25% greater odds of being not ready for school (95% CI: 1.11-1.41), and children born to grandmothers and mothers who were both <20 at the birth of their first child had 35% greater odds of being not ready for school (95% CI: 1.18-1.54).

Conclusions: These findings suggest a multigenerational effect of adolescent motherhood on school readiness.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child Development*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Manitoba
  • Maternal Age
  • Mothers
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy in Adolescence / psychology
  • Pregnancy in Adolescence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Students / psychology*
  • Young Adult

Grant support

This study was funded by a Graduate Enhancement of Tricouncil Stipend from the University of Manitoba.