Teenage pregnancy and associated risk behaviors among sexually abused adolescents

Elizabeth M. Saewyc, Lara Leanne Magee, Sandra L Pettingell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

102 Scopus citations

Abstract

CONTEXT: Previous research suggests a link between adolescent pregnancy and sexual abuse history but most studies have used clinical samples of females only and single measures of abuse. METHODS: Associations between pregnancy involvement, risk behaviors and sexual abuse were examined in sexually experienced teenagers from the Minnesota Student Surveys of 1992 (N=29, 187) and 1998 (N=25, 002). Chi-square tests assessed differences in pregnancy involvement and related risk behaviors among four groups of adolescents, categorized by type of abuse experienced: none, incest only, nonfamilial only of both. Odds ratios for pregnancy involvement and risk behaviors, adjusted for grade level and race, were calculated for each gender by using logistic regression analysis. RESULTS: Sexual abuse was reported by 6% of males and 27% of females in 1992, and by 9% and 22% in 1998. Reports of pregnancy involvement were significantly more common among abused adolescents (13-26% of females and 22-61% of males, depending on type of abuse) than among nonabused adolescents (8-10%). Abused adolescents were more likely than others to report risk behaviors, and teenagers reporting both abuse types had the highest odds of pregnancy involvement and risk behaviors. The differential in the odds of pregnancy involvement and most behaviors was larger between nonabused and abused males than between nonabused and abused females. CONCLUSIONS: Teenage pregnancy risk is strongly linked to sexual abuse, especially for males and those who have experienced both incest and nonfamilial abuse. To further reduce the U.S. teenage pregnancy rate, the pregnancy prevention needs of these groups must be adequately addressed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)98-105
Number of pages8
JournalPerspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health
Volume36
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2004

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