Child Marriage Tied to Higher Risk of Psychiatric Disorders

Women who marry before 18 years have increased lifetime, 12-month rates of psychiatric disorders

THURSDAY, Sept. 1 (HealthDay News) -- Women in the United States who get married before the age of 18 years have higher rates of a broad range of psychiatric disorders, according to a study published online Aug. 28 in Pediatrics.

Yann Le Strat, M.D., from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, and colleagues evaluated the impact of child marriage on mental health among women, using nationally representative data on the prevalence, sociodemographic correlates, and psychiatric comorbidity of child marriage among women in the United States. Data were derived from the 2001 to 2002 National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions. A total of 24,575 women whose age at first marriage was known were analysed, of whom 18,645 women had been or were currently married.

The investigators found that the prevalence of child marriage was 8.9 percent. Factors that correlated with child marriage included being black or American Indian/Alaska native, being older than 45 years at the time of interview, having a low education level, low household income, and living in the South or rural areas of the United States. Compared to women who married as adults, women who married as children had higher overall lifetime and 12-month rates of psychiatric disorders, and had a higher likelihood of seeking and accessing health services.

"Child marriage increases the risk of lifetime and current psychiatric disorders in the United States. Support for psychiatric vulnerabilities among women married in childhood is required," the authors write.

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