Family, Child, Adolescent Health (Includes Maternal & Child Health)
How does fathers’ prenatal involvement influence teen mothers’ postpartum depression?
(School of Public Health (UMD) Family Science Doctoral Student)
Background: Adolescent mothers are at increased risk of depression compared to older mothers. Little research has addressed how prenatal father involvement impacts maternal depression and what factors play a role in this relationship, in particular among adolescent mothers. Objective: To determine whether prenatal father involvement protects against maternal postpartum depression and whether this is explained by social support and strain between the father and adolescent mother postpartum. Methods: Data for this study was collected as part of a longitudinal quasi-experimental evaluation of the effectiveness of an integrated family-centered medical home for adolescent parent families during interviews conducted at baseline when children averaged 2 months old. A subsample of participants completed a 14-item father prenatal involvement questionnaire (Marsiglio, 2008) and served as the population of interest for this study (N=98). The Centers For Epidemiologic Studies-Depression Scale (CES-D) cut-off score of 16 was used to indicate depression. The Social Support Network Questionnaire (SSNQ) was used to measure social support and strain (none=father not named as support person, low=below scale mid-point, high=above scale mid-point). Results: Higher prenatal father involvement was associated with decreased odds of maternal postpartum depression (OR=0.91, p=0.05) and low strain with the father (OR=1.428, p=.000). Mothers reporting low strain also had significantly lower odds of depression (OR=0.25, p=0.03) than those who did not identify the father as a support person at all. Multivariate logistic regression indicated that low strain mediates the negative association between prenatal father involvement and maternal depression. Conclusion: Supporting fathers’ involvement with teen mothers prenatally can positively influence their parenting relationship and maternal mental health, which have positive implications for child outcomes.