A population-level and longitudinal study of adolescent mothers and intergenerational maltreatmentedit
For teenage mothers in California, we generated population-level estimates of the relationship between maternal history of maltreatment and next-generation abuse and neglect. California birth records for all infants born to primiparous teen mothers in 2006 or 2007 were linked to statewide child protective services (CPS) records. For each birth, we used CPS records to document 1) whether the teen mother had a history of reported or substantiated maternal maltreatment at or after age 10 years and before the estimated date of conception and 2) whether the teen’s child was reported or substantiated for maltreatment before age 5 years. We fitted multivariable survival models to examine the association between a teenage mother’s CPS involvement and child maltreatment, after adjusting for a range of sociodemographic variables. Our final data set included 85,084 births to first-time mothers aged 15-19 years. Significantly heightened rates of abuse and neglect were observed for children of mothers who had been reported to CPS as possible victims of maltreatment (P < 0.001). After adjustment for other risk factors, a maternal history of either unsubstantiated (hazard ratio = 2.19, 95% confidence interval: 2.06, 2.33) or substantiated (hazard ratio = 3.19, 95% confidence interval: 3.00, 3.39) maltreatment emerged as a strong predictor of maltreatment and CPS involvement in the next generation.