University of Manitoba/Stanford University: Multi-generational effects of teenage motherhood

Photo Credit: Unsplash User  Felipe Bustillo

Photo Credit: Unsplash User Felipe Bustillo

Colleen O’Brien and Nicole Bogart, in an article for CTV News, interviewed Elizabeth Wall-Wieler of Stanford University, who worked with colleagues from the University of Manitoba to do the study.

The findings of the study were that, compared with children whose grandmothers were 20 or older at the birth of their first child, a greater percentage of children whose grandmothers had been teen mums were not ready for school. The relationship persisted even when a child’s mother was not a teen mum.

The study used data from the Manitoba population research data repository to identify 11,326 children born in Manitoba 2000-2009 whose mothers were born 1979-1997. The researchers were able to link information from the Manitoba data repository, Early Development Instrument (EDI) scores and Canadian census data. Wall-Wieler commented, “Based on previous studies, I knew that children of adolescent mothers were less likely to be ready for school, and among adolescent mothers, it was more likely that their mothers were also adolescent mothers.” However, more surprisingly, the report found that children whose grandmothers were teen mothers, but whose mothers were older when they gave birth to their first child, had 39% greater odds of not being ready for school compared with children whose mothers and grandmothers were both at least 20 at the birth of their first child.

Delays in school readiness were noted in physical well-being, social competence, language and cognitive development.

Wall-Wieler notes that the research shows an area of opportunity for evaluating which children may be at risk for falling behind in school, “When identifying children who may benefit from additional resources to ensure they are ready to start school when they enter kindergarten, we should look beyond risk factors in the child’s immediate family and environments.”