Postpartum depression among lower SES teen mothers

Mary Helen Lillich, Marquette University


A sample of fifty-two teens took the Reynolds Adolescent Depression Scale during their third trimester of pregnancy and again six to twelve weeks postpartum. Subjects were lower SES teens between the ages of fourteen and nineteen. SES was defined as WIC eligible (WIC eligibility is based on a maximum income of 185% of the poverty level). Depression rates during pregnancy were 13.5%. The postpartum depression rate was 7.7% (four subjects). Two cases were of new onset. The other two subjects had been depressed during pregnancy and continued to be depressed in the postpartum. Subjects scored higher on the Reynolds Adolescent Depression Scale prenatally (mean = 62.6, SD = 11.9) than postnatally (mean = 57.7, SD = 12.4). (t = (51) = 3.3, p $<$.002). No significant differences in postpartum depression were found between teens with or without a history of psychiatric hospitalization, teens whose mothers had or had not been hospitalized for treatment of mental problems, teens who had or had not experienced separation or loss of parents in childhood or between teens with very good versus teens with mediocre to poor relationships with their mother. Maternal age, level of education, neonatal risk factors, and number of children were not significantly correlated with postpartum depression. Maternity blues, childcare stress, and social support were significantly correlated with postpartum depression scores (p $<$.05). The data from this study indicated that lower SES teens were more depressed during pregnancy than in the postpartum. The teens in this sample reported that they and their mother and the father of their baby are reasonably happy about the pregnancy. Pregnancy outcome is generally good. It appears that having a baby when one is a teen, at least in the early stages of parenthood, is not an aversive event.

Recommended Citation

Lillich, Mary Helen, "Postpartum depression among lower SES teen mothers" (1990). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. AAI9117353.