Archives of Women's Mental Health

, Volume 21, Issue 3, pp 333–340 | Cite as

Teenage pregnancy and long-term mental health outcomes among Indigenous women in Canada

  • Chloé G. Xavier
  • Hilary K. Brown
  • Anita C. BenoitEmail author
Original Article


Our objectives were to (1) compare the risks for poor long-term mental health outcomes among indigenous women with and without a teenage pregnancy and (2) determine if community and cultural factors modify this risk. We conducted a secondary analysis of the 2012 Aboriginal Peoples Survey. Respondents were women aged 25 to 49 years who had given birth to at least one child. Teenage mothers (age at first birth 13 to 19 years; n = 1330) were compared to adult mothers (age at first birth 20 years or older; n = 2630). Mental health outcomes were psychological distress, mental health status, suicide ideation/attempt, and alcohol consumption. To address objective 1, we used binary logistic regression analyses before and after controlling for covariates. To address objective 2, we tested the significance of interaction terms between teenage pregnancy status and effect measure modifiers. In unadjusted analyses, teenage pregnancy was associated with increased risk for poor/fair mental health [odds ratio (OR) 1.77, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.24–2.53] and suicide attempt/ideation (OR 1.95, 95% CI 1.07–3.54). However, the associations were not statistically significant after adjusting for demographic, socioeconomic, environmental, and health covariates. Teenage pregnancy was not associated with increased risk for high psychological distress or heavy alcohol consumption in unadjusted or adjusted analyses. The interaction term for involvement in cultural activities was statistically significant for poor/fair mental health; however, after stratification, ORs were non-significant. Among indigenous mothers, teenage pregnancy was less important than broader social and health circumstances in predicting long-term mental health.


Pregnancy in adolescence Maternal health Mental health Indigenous population 



This research was supported by funds to the Canadian Research Data Centre Network (CRDCN) from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), the Canadian Institute for Health Research (CIHR), the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI), and Statistics Canada. Our research was also funded by Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada to support analysis of the 2012 Aboriginal Peoples Survey. Although the research and analysis are based on data from Statistics Canada, the opinions expressed do not represent the views of Statistics Canada.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Austria, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chloé G. Xavier
    • 1
  • Hilary K. Brown
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Anita C. Benoit
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Dalla Lana School of Public HealthUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Anthropology Department (Health Studies Program)University of Toronto ScarboroughScarboroughCanada
  3. 3.Women’s College Research Institute, Women’s College HospitalUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

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