Mentally ill girls more likely to become teenage parents


A new study published in the journal Pediatrics examines fertility rates among girls with mental illness and finds that teenagers diagnosed with major mental illness are three times more likely to become teenaged parents.

The study, conducted in Ontario, Canada, is the first of its kind. It was carried out by researchers at the Institute of Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) and Women's College Hospital.

"Research tells us that young girls are at high risk of pregnancy complications, including preterm birth, poor fetal growth and postpartum depression," said Dr. Simone Vigod, a psychiatrist at Women's College Hospital and an adjunct scientist at ICES. "Add to this a pre-existing mental illness, and these young women are forced to manage significant additional challenges."

The study examined live birth rates from 1999 to 2009 in 4.5 million girls aged 15 to 19 and cross-referenced their records to group them according to major mental illness (if any). The study compares the records of those girls with diagnosis for major mental health issues and those without to draw its conclusions. Major mental illness included depression, bipolar disorder, and other psychotic disorders.

The study also considered trends over time, which showed that live birth rates were decreasing over time in both groups, but were decreasing faster in girls without mental illness than they were in girls with diagnosis.

The study is in the current issue of Pediatrics.


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