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Young motherhood, maternal psychopathology and children's cognitive, behavioural and emotional development.

Waters, Cerith S. ORCID: 2008. Young motherhood, maternal psychopathology and children's cognitive, behavioural and emotional development. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.

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The corpus of research contained in this thesis is concerned with the psychological correlates and consequences of an early transition to parenthood for mothers and children. In light of the recent demographic shifts in the postponement of marriage and parenthood, particular attention was given to women who entered motherhood in their early twenties, as well as to teenage mothers. Using data from two prospective longitudinal cohorts in the United Kingdom, three interlocking studies were conducted to chart the course of mental health problems in young mothers and the risks for mental health problems and cognitive deficits in their children. Study 1 found that women who entered parenthood in their teenage and early twenties years are at an increased risk of experiencing a depressive episode during pregnancy and, in the 11 year period that followed their child's birth, most went on to experience subsequent episodes. Study 2 demonstrated that the increased prevalence of antenatal depression among the women who became mothers at young ages, along with the sub-optimal antenatal and postnatal environments they provided, partly accounted for the elevated rates of emotional disorder and cognitive deficits in their offspring. Study 3 replicated the finding of high rates of antenatal depression in a new sample of young mothers and identified four core predictors of their psychopathology: housing dissatisfaction, serious relationship difficulties, a personal history of affective disorder and a family history of psychiatric illness. Across both samples, high rates of antenatal substance use by both groups of young mothers were also observed. These findings call for intervention programmes for adolescent mothers to focus on the antenatal as well the postnatal period, and the expansion of such initiatives to address the needs of early twenties mothers and their offspring.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Psychology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
ISBN: 9781303196935
Funders: MRC, ESRC
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 25 Oct 2022 08:44

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