You are here

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

TitleTeenage pregnancy and long-term mental health outcomes among Indigenous women in Canada
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsXavier, C. G., Brown H. K., and Benoit A. C.
JournalArchives of Women's Mental Health
Pages334 - 340
Keywordsindigenous population, maternal health, mental health, pregnancy in adolescence

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.