Young parents

Young parents

  • Mothers under 20 have higher rates of poor mental health for up to 3 years after birth, and are 3 times more likely to experience postnatal depression, compared to older mothers (94). Young mothers are also at higher risk of PTSD during the perinatal period (95).
  • In the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Strategy for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Needs profile, Romsey Mill (a local charity that provides support for young parents) reported that over 1 in 3 of young mothers they work with have mental health needs (96).

Local population

The proportion of births by mothers under 20 is almost twice as high in Fenland and Peterborough, than in Cambridgeshire (93).

Figure 14: Proportion of live births by mothers under 20, 2021. Data source: (93)

In 2020/21, there were 15 mothers under the age of 18 in Cambridgeshire and 30 in Peterborough. The proportion of young mothers is significantly higher than the national rate in Peterborough; but similar to the national rate in Cambridgeshire (15).

Figure 15: Proportion of young parents (under 18s) in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. Data source: Fingertips

Note that around 22% of female care leavers become young mothers, which is around 3 times the national average (85). For more information, see the section on care leavers.

Risk factors for poor mental health 

  • Experiencing four or more adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) is associated with a 16 times higher risk of becoming pregnant or getting someone pregnant by the age of 18 (47).
  • 2 in 3 young mothers experience relationship breakdown during pregnancy or the 3 years after birth (94).
  • Children born to women under 20 are at 63% higher risk of living in poverty (94).


  • A 2022 survey of 30 young parents in Cambridgeshire found that 70% felt they would have benefited from mental health support. Over 1 in 3 felt that poor mental health was a barrier preventing them from accessing support services (97). Full results of this survey can be found here.
  • National research shows that young mothers are less likely to seek support for their mental health due to fears that their parenting skills will be judged. This is a particular issue for women with histories of abuse and poor mental health (95).



Nationally, young fathers often report very poor experiences of midwifery and health visiting services, and feelings of exclusion and judgement (98). There is strong evidence showing the interrelationship between a young mother’s support systems and positive experiences of the transition to parenthood (99).

Additional resources


15. Office for Health Improvement and Disparities. Child and Maternal Health [Internet]. Fingertips. 2023 [cited 2023 Mar 20]. Available from:
47. Public Health England. Making the Case for Preconception Care: Planning and preparation for pregnancy to improve maternal and child health outcomes [Internet]. 2018 [cited 2023 Mar 2]. Available from:
93. Office for National Statistics. Birth characteristics in England and Wales: 2021 [Internet]. 2023 [cited 2023 Apr 6]. Available from:
94. Public Health England. A framework for supporting teenage mothers and young fathers [Internet]. 2019 [cited 2023 Mar 1]. Available from:
95. Mental Health Foundation. Young Mums Together: An evaluation of a peer support project to improve the wellbeing of young mothers and their families [Internet]. 2018 [cited 2023 Mar 16]. Available from:
96. Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Integrated Care System. A Children and Young People’s Mental Health Strategy for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Needs profile [Internet]. 2022 [cited 2023 Feb 8]. Available from:
97. Romsey Mill. Responses to Young Parents County Wide Survey 2022. 2022.
98. Lau Clayton C. The Lives of Young Fathers: A Review of Selected Evidence. Vol. 15, Social Policy and Society. 2015.
99. Brand G, Morrison P, Down B. How do health professionals support pregnant and young mothers in the community? A selective review of the research literature. Women and Birth. 2014;27(3):174–8.