Objective: It is recognized that pregnant teenagers have higher levels of psychological symptomatology compared to older pregnant women. However, there are limited data on fathers in the setting of teenage pregnancy. The aim of this study was to compare levels of psychological symptomatology in fathers in the setting of teenage as compared to non-teenage pregnancy.
Method: A cross-sectional cohort study was undertaken. Data from interviews with consecutive fathers in the setting of teenage (Teenage) and non-teenage (Control) pregnancy were compared during the antenatal period. Subjects were interviewed to obtain information covering demographic and family information, the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) and General Health Questionnaire-28 (GHQ-28).
Results: Significantly more fathers in the setting of teenage pregnancy met the case criteria for HADS-A and HADS-D subscales compared to older fathers. They had significantly higher GHQ-28 totals and all subscale scores and were more likely predictive of a young age of death compared to older fathers. However, formal contact with psychiatric services was similar between groups. Interestingly, 14% of fathers in the setting of teenage pregnancy reported losing their own father as a child. In multivariate analysis, a high HADS score was significantly associated with younger age of onset of fatherhood and exposure to domestic violence as a child, whereas having their own father alive was significantly protective against a high HADS score.
Conclusion: Fathers, in the setting of teenage pregnancy, have unrecognized psychological symptomatology and require services along with teenage mothers.