Association between unintended pregnancy and internalizing disorders among Latina and Asian American mothers

J Affect Disord. 2019 Nov 1;258:117-124. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2019.07.068. Epub 2019 Jul 30.


Background: Pregnancy, whether intended or unintended, is associated with internalizing symptoms among women; for some, these symptoms cause impairment and develop into an internalizing disorder (ID). With the growing diversity of the US population, there is a need to understand how pregnancy relates to IDs among minorities. This study examines the association between unintended pregnancy and lifetime and 12-month history of IDs among Latina and Asian mothers.

Methods: Data come from the National Latino and Asian American Study (NLAAS), a nationally representative sample of Latino and Asian adults. Pregnancy intention was self-reported. ID history was assessed with the CIDI (DSM-IV). Logistic regression was used to examine the association between pregnancy intention and likelihood of lifetime and 12-month IDs.

Results: Among 1915 mothers, 24.1% and 14.7% met criteria for a lifetime and 12-month ID, respectively. Relative to those who only reported intended pregnancies, Asian mothers reporting an unintended pregnancy had the highest odds of lifetime (Odds ratio (OR): 2.51, 95% Confidence Interval (CI): 1.55-4.08) and 12-month IDs (OR: 5.73, 95% CI: 2.67-12.29). Latina mothers reporting unintended pregnancies also had higher odds of lifetime (OR: 1.96, 95% CI: 1.41-2.72) and 12-month IDs (OR: 1.70, 95% CI: 1.12-2.59). Socioeconomic status had no significant modifying effect.

Limitations: Cross-sectional data and retrospective recall and social desirability could misclassify pregnancy intention.

Conclusions: Unintended pregnancy is associated with higher odds of IDs among mothers. Findings underscore the complex relationship between unintended pregnancy and maternal mental health.

Keywords: Asian; Internalizing disorders; Latino; Socioeconomic status; Unintended pregnancy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Asian Americans / psychology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Defense Mechanisms
  • Female
  • Hispanic or Latino / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Mental Disorders / psychology*
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy, Unplanned / psychology*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Self Report
  • Social Class
  • Young Adult