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Summary: Teenage Births May Run in the Family

Adolescent girls whose sisters experienced a teenage birth are more likely to also experience a teenage birth themselves.

  • According to a study published in Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, various studies have shown that young women whose sisters had a teenage birth have a high rate of also giving birth themselves at a young age. Other studies have shown that daughters of teenage mothers are more likely to experience a teenage birth than young women whose mothers did not experience a teenage birth. The researchers sampled and researched a group of 127 Latina and black adolescent females who had completed in-depth surveys (related to the study) at three different times between 1994 and 2000. The mothers of the adolescent girls involved in the study also answered a variety of questions including total annual family income and their highest level of completed education, their general parenting style and how strict they were with their children, and their sexual and pregnancy histories. Many of the females involved in this study had a family history of teenage births and they were all involved in the study from early adolescence (ages 12-14) to late adolescence (ages 18-20). 54% of the older sisters of the 127 young women who were the focus of the study reported having their first birth at age 18 or younger. Among these older sisters, the average age at childbearing was 16. Similarly, 54% of the young women’s mothers reported having their first child at age 18 or younger, with the average age at first birth was 17. Among the adolescent girls the study focused on, 21% had only a sister who had experienced a teenage birth, 21% had only a mother that had experienced a teenage birth, and 32% had both. The study found that a high risk of early pregnancy is associated with having a family history of teenage parenting, particularly a sister who has experienced a teenage birth. 1

1Association Between Adolescent Pregnancy and a Family History of Teenage Births, Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, Vol. 39, No. 2, June 2007, pp. 108-115.

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