Early Sexual Activity, but Not Childhood Sexual Abuse, Increases the Odds of Teenage Pregnancy

Witwer, M.
July 1997
Family Planning Perspectives;Jul/Aug97, Vol. 29 Issue 4, p195
Academic Journal
This article reports on the reasons for teenage pregnancy in the U.S. Early initiation of voluntary intercourse may be related to higher teenage pregnancy rates. In a sample of young Arizona women, 11% of those who had been abused but had not begun voluntary intercourse by age 16 became pregnant as teenagers, compared with more than 40% of those who had begun having sex before they were 16. The women's age at first intercourse and use of a contraceptive method at that time made the greatest contribution to predicting the risk of teenage pregnancy. The findings come from a study of 2003 women aged 18-22 who were recruited at 44 urban and rural sites throughout Arizona. The sites included public health clinics, private health care providers' offices, community colleges, vocational schools, universities and social service agencies. Purposive sampling was used to obtain adequate representation for subgroup analysis of Arizona's major ethnic groups. The researchers used three approaches to examine the relationship between childhood sexual abuse and teenage pregnancy. First, they compared background characteristics of women who had experienced sexual abuse or pregnancy before age 18 with those of their peers who had not.


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