Pregnancy Risk among Black, White, and Hispanic Teen Girls in New York City Public Schools

Waddell, Elizabeth; Orr, Mark G.; Sackoff, Judith; Santelli, John S.
May 2010
Journal of Urban Health;May2010, Vol. 87 Issue 3, p426
Academic Journal
Disparities in teen pregnancy rates are explained by different rates of sexual activity and contraceptive use. Identifying other components of risk such as race/ethnicity and neighborhood can inform strategies for teen pregnancy prevention. Data from the 2005 and 2007 New York City Youth Risk Behavior Surveys were used to model demographic differences in odds of recent sexual activity and birth control use among black, white, and Hispanic public high school girls. Overall pregnancy risk was calculated using pregnancy risk index (PRI) methodology, which estimates probability of pregnancy based on current sexual activity and birth control method at last intercourse. Factors of race/ethnicity, grade level, age, borough, and school neighborhood were assessed. Whites reported lower rates of current sexual activity (23.4%) than blacks (35.4%) or Hispanics (32.7%), and had lower predicted pregnancy risk (PRI = 5.4% vs. 9.0% and 10.5%, respectively). Among sexually active females, hormonal contraception use rates were low in all groups (11.6% among whites, 7.8% among blacks, and 7.5% among Hispanics). Compared to white teens, much of the difference in PRI was attributable to poorer contraceptive use (19% among blacks and 50% among Hispanics). Significant differences in contraceptive use were also observed by school neighborhood after adjusting for age group and race/ethnicity. Interventions to reduce teen pregnancy among diverse populations should include messages promoting delayed sexual activity, condom use and use of highly effective birth control methods. Access to long-acting contraceptive methods must be expanded for all sexually active high school students.


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