1A. Encourage prospective parents to carefully consider their readiness to assume the roles and responsibilities of becoming a parent.
Premise: The risk of maltreatment to children of young mothers can be documented through careful study design.
Research Question: Are children of young mothers at increased risk of child maltreatment, poor growth, and foster placement?
Subjects: Two hundred nineteen children born to women 16 years old or younger, and 219 children born to women 19 years and older. Both groups were socio-demographically similar.
Study Design: Initial data was obtained perinatally from the mothers chart. Subsequent data were collected from the childrens medical records up to their fifth birthday. This was the first longitudinal, carefully designed study on this topic in which past studies have had methodological flaws. Outcome measures were carefully predefined and rated blindly.
Findings: Maltreatment occurred in children of adolescents 12.5% of the time compared to 6.4% for the other children. Poor growth rates were 6.6% and 4.1%, respectively. Foster care or mother leaving the home were 12.8% and 3.2%, respectively. The relative risk values for these variables were 2.0, 1.67, and 4.0.
Research reviewed by Elaine Petros, RN, while a student at Virginia Commonwealth University, School of Nursing, in Richmond, VA.