We examined the role of childhood behavioral and mental health problems in the prediction of adolescent childbearing. Using large sample archival data from multiple state agencies, we examined the relationships between early adverse experiences and adolescent childbearing in a sample of 70,200 females, one half of whom had juvenile delinquency histories. Females who had been committed to Child Protective Services, had received a DSM-IV diagnosis for a mental health disorder from the State Department of Mental Health, had been classified in school as having a school-related disability such as a learning disability, or who were eligible for free or reduced lunch were significantly more likely than other females to bear a child during the teen years. The strongest association between childhood risk and teen childbearing involved juvenile delinquency; girls who had been referred to the state juvenile justice department were 3 ½ times more likely to have a child while still a teenager than girls who had not been arrested. Race and income (free/reduced lunch) were also associated with teen childbearing. Associations between teen childbearing and mental health problems/risk indicators remained strong even for teens who had not been involved in the juvenile justice system. Implications for prevention/reduction of adolescent childbearing were examined.
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Barrett, D.E., Katsiyannis, A., Zhang, D. et al. Predictors of Teen Childbearing Among Delinquent and Non-Delinquent Females. J Child Fam Stud 24, 970–978 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-014-9907-6