Research from UC Merced focuses on Latina teen mothers and pregnancy

MERCED, Calif. (KFSN) -- New research from UC Merced highlights the mental health crisis many teen mothers face throughout the Central Valley.

Professor Alexandra Main spearheaded the study, which began in 2017.

"The rates of teen pregnancy are really high here and not a lot is really known about teen mothers living in rural communities," she said.

Main used her skills researching parent-adolescent relationships and teamed up with talented professionals in different fields to find answers.

They focused on Latinas since most of the women who volunteered were from that demographic.

About 100 women took part in the study.

"We asked them questions about their mental health, social support and how their child is developing, language and things like that," Main said.

Their research uncovered the correlation between the quality and quantity of their sleep and mental health - and the positive impact of social support.

"It was support from friends that seem to buffer the association between sleep and mental health," Main said.

The goal is to find more ways to support these women and help them succeed.

" It's really important for us to understand what are those risks and protective factors we can identify among this population to develop interventions," Main said.

The research is not over yet. Main says they want to study the impact on children who grow up with teen parents to find better ways of guiding them as well.
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