Objective To evaluate the impact of contamination, or the presence of child maltreatment in a comparison condition, when estimating the broad, longitudinal effects of child maltreatment on female health at the transition to adulthood. Methods The Female Adolescent Development Study (N = 514; age range: 14-19 years) used a prospective cohort design to examine the effects of substantiated child maltreatment on teenage births, obesity, major depression, and past-month cigarette use. Contamination was controlled via a multimethod strategy that used both adolescent self-report and Child Protective Services records to remove cases of child maltreatment from the comparison condition. Results Substantiated child maltreatment significantly predicted each outcome, relative risks = 1.47-2.95, 95% confidence intervals: 1.03-7.06, with increases in corresponding effect size magnitudes, only when contamination was controlled using the multimethod strategy. Conclusions Contamination truncates risk estimates of child maltreatment and controlling it can strengthen overall conclusions about the effects of child maltreatment on female health.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Developmental and Educational Psychology