Young maternal age and depressive symptoms: results from the 1988 National Maternal and Infant Health Survey

Am J Public Health. 1998 Feb;88(2):266-70. doi: 10.2105/ajph.88.2.266.


Objectives: The goal of this study was to provide population-based estimates of the prevalence of depressive symptoms among primiparous US adolescent mothers.

Methods: Data from the live-birth component of the 1988 National Maternal and Infant Health Survey were analyzed.

Results: The prevalence of depressive symptoms varied by age and race, from 14% among White adult mothers to 48% among Black mothers 15 to 17 years old. After control for income and marital status, the increased prevalence of depressive symptoms associated with adolescent motherhood was greatly diminished (for 15- to 17-year-old Black women and 18- to 19-year-old White women) or eliminated (for 18- to 19-year-old Black women and 15- to 17-year-old White women).

Conclusions: Adolescent mothers experience high rates of depressive symptoms relative to adult mothers, and mental health and other interventions that alleviate the exacerbating influence of poverty and unmarried status are warranted.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Maternal Age*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United States / epidemiology