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Open Access Research article

Psychosocial factors associated with becoming a young father in Finland: a nationwide longitudinal study

Venla Lehti1, Andre Sourander12*, Lauri Sillanmäki1, Hans Helenius3, Tuula Tamminen4, Kirsti Kumpulainen5 and Fredrik Almqvist6

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Child Psychiatry, University of Turku, Itäinen Pitkäkatu 1/Varia, Turku, 20014, Finland

2 Center for Child and Adolescent Mental Health, North Norway (RBUP), University of Tromsø, 9037, Breivika, Norway

3 Department of Biostatistics, University of Turku, Lemminkäisenkatu 1, 20014, Turku, Finland

4 Department of Child Psychiatry, Medical School, University of Tampere, Tampere, 33014, Finland

5 Department of Child Psychiatry, University of Eastern Finland, Alava hospital, P.O. Box 1777, 70211, Kuopio, Finland

6 Department of Child Psychiatry, University of Helsinki, the Hospital of Children & Adolescents, Lastenlinnantie 2, 00250, Helsinki, Finland

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BMC Public Health 2012, 12:560  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-560

Published: 27 July 2012



Little is known about the characteristics of boys who become fathers at young age. Some studies have suggested that antisocial adolescents are more likely to be young fathers. The aim of this study was to examine the associations of psychosocial factors in childhood with becoming a young father, and to assess if they are independent of criminal behavior in adolescence.


The baseline assessment in 1989 included 2,946 boys born in 1981. Information about psychiatric symptoms at age eight was collected with Rutter questionnaires from parents and teachers and with the Child Depression Inventory from the children themselves. Data on criminal offenses at age 16–20 was collected from a police register. Register-based follow-up data on becoming a father under the age of 22 was available for 2,721 boys.


The factors measured at age eight, which were associated with becoming a young father independently of adolescent criminality, were conduct problems, being born to a young father and having a mother with a low educational level. Having repeatedly committed criminal offences in adolescence was associated with becoming a young father independently of psychosocial factors in childhood.


Antisocial tendencies both in childhood and adolescence are associated with becoming a young father. They should be taken into consideration when designing preventive or supportive interventions.

Young father; Childhood; Adolescence; Risk factor; Epidemiology