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Pediatrics. 1986 Oct;78(4):585-90.

Interactions of adolescent mothers and their 1-year-old children.


It is unclear why the school-aged children of adolescent mothers have more cognitive and behavioral problems than those of adult mothers. To clarify why these children have problems and when during their lives they develop, the relationship between adolescent maternal age and the nature of the behavioral interaction between mothers and their children was studied in the laboratory. Thirty lower socioeconomic status mothers who were 15.5 years to 20 years of age and their 9- to 12-month-old children were videotaped for 20 minutes. Rating scales were developed to score the videotapes. There were significant correlations indicating that younger mothers tended to show less acceptance (r = .63; P less than .001), less cooperation (r = .57; P less than .001), less accessibility (r = .51; P less than .003), less sensitivity (r = .46; P less than .006), and more negative verbal communication (r = .32; P less than .047) than older adolescent mothers. Younger maternal age was also associated with more overall negative interaction between mother and child (r = .35; P less than .032) and with less child-initiated social contact with the mother (r = .32; P less than .050). We conclude that over the relatively narrow age range younger adolescent maternal age is related to less favorable mothering behaviors in the laboratory when the children are 9 to 12 months of age.

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