Beware would-be-mommies, the children from unplanned or unwanted pregnancies may experience more depressive symptoms in early adulthood that children from intended pregnancies, a study has found.
According to researchers, there is no causal relationship, although social inequality may play a role.
An assistant professor Jessica Su from the University at Buffalo in New York said that the association between fertility intentions and depressive symptoms is more likely due to the mother's socio-economic background and the accompanying lack of access to resources and services.
"I think it's an important characteristic of the family environment that contextualises the child's development. It's an indicator of the importance of social resources over the developing life course," Su added.
An existing research has established that children resulting from unintended pregnancies generally have poorer health and development than children from intended pregnancies.
Their mothers are less likely to get timely prenatal care and they may have poor parent-child relationships.
Since unintended births predict risk factors in childhood, Su asks how that might inform the child's young adult years.
Su says only two studies have looked at how these children fare in adulthood.
Both of these studies were done roughly 50 years ago and were based on samples of white parents, the population segment least likely to have an unintended pregnancy.
Su's study is conceptually innovative in that it uses intergenerational data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, which started reporting in the late 1970s and includes information on the mother's background before she had children, a critical point when it comes to isolating the parent-child relationship.
"Even though the causal link isn't there, being the child of an unintended pregnancy still makes a difference," says Su.
That difference is likely to be more than the result of pregnancy status."
The findings appear in the Journal of Health and Social Behaviour.