1UONPIA Territoriale e Psicopatologia dell’Età Evolutiva, ASST “Santi Paolo e Carlo”, Milano
2Dipartimento di Psicologia, Università “Milano-Bicocca”
3UO di Neuropsichiatria infantile, ASST “Santi Paolo e Carlo”, Milano
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Key words: Motherhood in adolescence, Psychopathology, Risk factor
Background - Motherhood in adolescence is associated with numerous risk factors that
could have a negative effect on the well-being of the mother, on her parenting skills and
on the relationship with her child.
Aims - To assess the psychopathological profile and psychosocial risk factors of 104 adolescent and young mothers (age range 13-21) who were recruited at the Child Neuropsychiatric Unit of ASST “Santi Paolo and Carlo” Hospital (Milan, Italy).
Materials and method - 3 months after giving birth, mothers filled in a personal data sheet; maternal attachment models and reflective functioning were evaluated with Adult Attachment Interview and the presence of maternal adverse childhood experiences were analysed with CECA. Depressive risk with EPDS, anxiety risk with STAI-Y and parenting stress with PSI-SF were also assessed.
Results - 75% of mothers have a low socio-economic level and 80% have low levels of education. In 79% of the cases, the mothers do not work and 50% of them interrupted their studies. Pregnancy is mostly not desired (76%) and the majority of them have a family history of parenthood in adolescence. On a psychopathological level, depressive and anxious risks are high. Most adolescent and young mothers have an insecure attachment model with low reflective functioning; moreover, 51% of the mothers have experienced at least one adverse childhood experience and adverse experiences are often cumulative.
Conclusion - The study shows a high-risk psychopathological and psychosocial profile of motherhood in adolescence, which can have an effect on the mother's health, affecting her ability to interact and build an adequate relationship with her child. It is therefore important to implement early interventions to support the child-adolescent mother relationship from the earliest phases, promoting maternal mentalization and sensitivity.
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