All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Robin Gaines Lanzi

Advisory Committee Members

Jennifer Burke Lefever

Kristi Carter Guest

Retta Evans

Connie Kohler

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) School of Public Health


Maternal depressive symptoms have been associated with deficits in parenting practices that protect children from injuries; however, few studies have been conducted to examine these relationships. Using data from a multisite longitudinal study of 252 first-time mothers, the relationships between the use of safe parenting practices and maternal depressive symptoms was examined, taking into account mother's resources (as defined by age and education level) and race at five time points during the first 3 years of the child's life. Depressive symptoms were assessed using the Beck Depression Inventory. Measures of maternal depressive symptoms, safe parenting practices (use of car seat, child abuse potential, smoking, and alcohol use) and occurrence of child injuries requiring medical attention were assessed at multiple time points. The study sample included adolescent (49.6%), low resource adult (25.4%), and high resource adult mothers (25.0%). The majority of mothers were African American (57.5%), and the remainder of mothers was Caucasian (23.4%), Hispanic/Latina (16.3%) or identified as "other" (2.8%) race/ethnicity. Using univariate and multivariate analyses, depressive symptom status, mother resource group, and race were used to predict safety practices at concurrent time points. Adolescent mothers and low resource adult mothers reported more chronic depression compared to high resource adult mothers. Adolescent mothers reported unsafe car seat practices more often than adult mothers, and minority mothers reported unsafe car seat practices more often than Caucasian mothers. Mothers who reported moderate/severe depressive symptoms had higher child abuse potential scores than mothers who reported minimal/mild depressive symptoms. African American mothers reported higher child abuse potential scores compared to Caucasian and Hispanic mothers. Caucasian adolescent mothers reported the highest smoking rates over time compared to African American and Hispanic mothers. Results of this study suggest that the age, education level, race, and depressive status of the mother all influence the use of safe car seat practices. Furthermore, depressive status is an important factor associated with occurrence of child injuries and child abuse potential. Collectively, these findings suggest the need for public health intervention in the provision of mental health services and adolescent pregnancy prevention.

Included in

Public Health Commons



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.