Prevalence and correlates of psychopathology in pregnant adolescents

J Adolesc Health. 1996 Jan;18(1):35-43. doi: 10.1016/1054-139X(95)00099-E.


Purpose: To investigate the prevalence and correlates of psychopathology, as measured by the Youth Self-Report Scale, in pregnant adolescents so that interventions during pregnancy may be tailored to treat the psychopathology and thereby improve maternal and child outcomes.

Methods: Scores on seven psychologic syndromes (withdrawn, delinquent, aggressive behaviors; anxiety/depression; and social, thought, and attention problems) were compared for groups of pregnant adolescents (n = 185), never pregnant teenagers (n = 126), and previously published normative samples of clinically referred (n = 518) and nonreferred (n = 518) female adolescents using chi-square, Student's t-tests, analysis of covariance, or multiple logistic regression. Correlates of psychopathology were identified for the pregnant sample using odds ratios and 95% confidence limits.

Results: Pregnant adolescents exhibited less serious or lower rates of psychopathology than groups against which they were compared. Correlates of psychopathology included substance use during pregnancy, prior assault, maternal childbirth before age 18 years, ethnicity, > or = 3 sexual partners, and absence of a relationship with the baby's father.

Conclusions: Although the prevalence of psychopathology was lower among pregnant patients, those who exhibit psychopathology are likely to engage in risky health behaviors that contribute to poor perinatal outcome.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interview, Psychological
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology
  • Mental Disorders / psychology
  • Odds Ratio
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy Complications / psychology
  • Pregnancy in Adolescence / psychology*
  • Pregnancy in Adolescence / statistics & numerical data
  • Prevalence
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales / statistics & numerical data
  • Psychopathology
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Syndrome
  • Texas / epidemiology