A behavior genetic investigation of adolescent motherhood and offspring mental health problems

K. Paige Harden, Stacy K. Lynch, Eric Turkheimer, Robert E. Emery, Brian M. D'Onofrio, Wendy S. Slutske, Mary D. Waldron, Andrew C. Heath, Dixie J. Statham, Nicholas G. Martin

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Abstract

The present study examines the relations between adolescent motherhood and children's behavior, substance use, and internalizing problems in a sample of 1,368 children of 712 female twins from Australia. Adolescent motherhood remained significantly associated with all mental health problems, even when using a quasiexperimental design capable of controlling for genetic and environmental confounds. However, the relation between adolescent motherhood and offspring behavior problems and substance use was partially confounded by family background variables that influence both generations. The results are consistent with a causal relation between adolescent motherhood and offspring mental health problems, and they highlight the usefulness of behavior genetic designs when examining putative environmental risks for the development of psychopathology. The generalizability of these results to the United States, which has a higher adolescent birth rate, is discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)667-683
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Abnormal Psychology
Volume116
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2007

Keywords

  • Adolescent motherhood
  • Children-of-twins
  • Externalizing
  • Internalizing
  • Mental health problems
  • Substance use
  • Teenage pregnancy

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    Harden, K. P., Lynch, S. K., Turkheimer, E., Emery, R. E., D'Onofrio, B. M., Slutske, W. S., Waldron, M. D., Heath, A. C., Statham, D. J., & Martin, N. G. (2007). A behavior genetic investigation of adolescent motherhood and offspring mental health problems. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 116(4), 667-683. https://doi.org/10.1037/0021-843X.116.4.667