advertisement
02 January 2013

Birth conditions predict teen years

Infants growing up in households struggling with chronic unemployment may face a higher risk for engaging in substance abuse as adolescents.

0

Infants growing up in households struggling with chronic unemployment may face a higher risk for engaging in substance abuse and a range of other delinquent behaviours as adolescents, new research suggests.

The finding is reported in the online issue of the journal Archives of General Psychiatry.

"The results demonstrate a strong correlation between the unemployment rate during infancy and subsequent behavioural problems," according to the study team led by Seethalakshmi Ramanathan, of the State University of New York Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, NY.

"This finding suggests that unfavorable economic conditions during infancy may create circumstances that can affect the psychological development of the infant and lead to the development of behavioural problems in adolescence," the study authors wrote.

How the study was done

To explore the subject, the investigators cross-referenced unemployment statistics between 1980 and 1982 (a time of recession) and data collected by the US National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997 concerning nearly 9 000 adolescents who were born between 1980 and 1984.

The result: The research team found that when homes caring for 1-year-old infants were exposed to even small upticks in their local unemployment rate, the chance that the infant would encounter behavioural problems as an adolescent increased.

Such problems included smoking marijuana or cigarettes, drinking, getting arrested, getting involved with gangs, and engaging in petty or major theft, the study authors noted in a journal news release.

That said, no such link between unemployment downturns and a higher risk for using hard drugs or engaging in violent assault was observed.

Findings in the study

"Although the past does not necessarily predict the future, it provides important lessons," Ramanathan's team concluded. "Our findings suggest an important static risk factor that mental-health professionals may want to take into account when dealing with children exposed to the current economic crisis."

"We hope that the study inspires mental-health professionals to look for potential causes and explore interventions that can mitigate some of these long-term consequences," he added.

Although the study found an association between economic conditions at the time of birth and behaviour problems in adolescence, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

Read more:

FAQ on infant feeding and pregnancy

Unemployment a heart attack risk

Babies and toddlers can suffer mental illness

More information

For more on juvenile delinquency prevention, visit the US Office of Justice Programs.

 

(Copyright © 2012 HealthDay. All rights reserved.) 

 

More:

ChildNews
advertisement

Get a quote

advertisement

Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Live healthier

Your health »

How well do you know the body? Your healthy liver lifestyle

Are you healthy?

Tell us about your health and you could win R5000.

Up for grabs »

Tell us about your health Stay warm when the lights go out Win R1000 in cash!

Win an energy-saving Spindel

Enter our competition and stand a chance of winning an energy saving Spindel valued at R2200!