Depression, Parenting Attributes, and Social Support among Adolescent Mothers Attending a Teen Tot Program

Joanne E. Cox, Matthew Buman, Jennifer Valenzuela, Natalie Pierre Joseph, Anna Mitchell, Elizabeth R. Woods

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


Objective: To investigate the associations between depressive symptoms in adolescent mothers and their perceived maternal caretaking ability and social support. Patients and Methods: Subjects were participants enrolled in a parenting program that provided comprehensive multidisciplinary medical care to teen mothers and their children. Baseline data of a prospective cohort study were collected by interview at 2 weeks postpartum and follow-up, and standardized measures on entry into postnatal parenting groups. Demographic data included education, social supports, psychological history, family history and adverse life events. Depressive symptoms were measured with the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale for Children short version (CES-DC). The Maternal Self-report Inventory (MSRI) measured perceived maternal self-esteem, and Duke-UNC Functional Social Support Questionnaire measured social support. Data were analyzed with bivariate analyses and linear regression modeling focusing on depressive symptoms as the outcome variable. Results: In the 168 teen mothers, mean age 17.6 ± 1.2 years, African American (50%), Latina (31%) or Biracial (13%), the prevalence of depressive symptoms was 53.6%. In the linear model, controlling for baby's age, teen's age, ethnicity, Temporary Aid for Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC), and previous suicidal gesture, increased depressive symptoms were associated with decreased perceived maternal caretaking ability (P = 0.003) and lower social support (P < 0.001). In a linear model controlling for the same variables, MSRI total score (P = 0.001) and social support (P < 0.001) contributed significantly to the model as did the interaction term (MSRI × Social Support, P = 0.044). Conclusions: Depression is associated with decreased maternal confidence in their ability to parent and decreased perceived maternal social support, with a possible moderating effect of social support on the relationship of maternal self-esteem and depression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)275-281
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescent mothers
  • Adolescent parenting
  • Depression
  • Social support
  • Teen parents

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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