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Adolescents' Pregnancy Intentions, Wantedness, and Regret: Cross-Lagged Relations With Mental Health and Harsh Parenting


  • Child Trends, 4301 Connecticut Ave. NW, Suite 350, Washington, DC 20008.

  • Department of Sociology, University of Michigan, 426 Thompson St., Ann Arbor, MI 48106-1248.

  • This article was edited by Deborah S. Carr.

Department of Pediatrics, Division of Child Development and Community Health, University of California, San Diego, 9500 Gilman Dr., Mail Code 0927, La Jolla, CA 92093-0927 (


The authors used cross-lagged analyses to examine the across-time influences on and consequences of adolescents' pregnancy intentions, wantedness, and regret. One hundred pregnant Latina adolescents were studied during pregnancy and at 6 and 12 months postpartum. The results revealed 4 main findings: (a) similar to what has been found in adult women, adolescents' lower prenatal pregnancy intendedness and wantedness predicted initial difficulties in parenting, (b) frequent depressive symptoms predicted subsequent lower pregnancy intendedness and wantedness, (c) adolescents' poor mental health and harsh parenting of their child predicted subsequent higher childbearing regret, and (d) high childbearing regret and parenting stress were reciprocally related across time. In addition, adolescents' wantedness of their pregnancy declined prenatally to postbirth, and strong pregnancy intendedness and wantedness were not concurrently related to adolescents' poor prenatal mental health. The findings reveal how adolescents' thoughts and feelings about their pregnancies are influenced by and predictive of their mental health and parenting experiences.