Teen Pregnancy Risks

Even though over all teen pregnancy rate in the United States are falling, the fact remains that the U.S. remains in the lead as far as teen pregnancy in the industrialized world is concerned. What puts teenagers in the U.S. more at risk for teen pregnancy? The answer to risk factors for teen pregnancy involve a variety of complex and intertwined reasons for early sexual activity, and the likelihood that one is to become pregnant.

Teens becoming sexually active earlier

One of the influences on the risk of a teen to become pregnant includes how early that teen becomes sexually active. More teens are becoming sexually active at younger ages. It is especially worth noting that teen pregnancy rates among girls under the age of 15 are actually on the rise, rather than in decline. However, a substantial portion of these teen girls had an unwanted or non-voluntary experience their first time. However, these teens are more likely to go on to have more intercourse and, as a result, more likely to have a teen pregnancy.

Among ethnic groups, Blacks and Hispanics become sexually active earlier than their White counterparts. This means that these ethnic groups are more likely to experience teen pregnancy. Additionally, teen girls who experience menarche (the first period) earlier are more susceptible to teen pregnancy, as they are by default have a longer time period in which to become pregnant.

Attitudes about birth control

Teens who do not use birth control are, obviously, at higher risk for teen pregnancy. Many teenagers find it difficult obtain birth control, and others are embarrassed to use it. This is especially true of condoms. Teens who do not have the dexterity or practice with condoms are more likely to avoid using them, and therefore become involved in creating a teen pregnancy. Cultural differences also play a part. Hispanics are the least likely to use birth control, followed by Blacks. This contributes to the teen pregnancy statistic that Hispanics, followed by Blacks, have the highest rates of teen pregnancy.

Socioeconomic factors in teen pregnancy risk

The socioeconomic status of a teenager’s family can present further risk of teen pregnancy. Risky sexual behaviors in teens are more likely to occur in poor families, and among those with single parents. Indeed, a study found that teens girls whose fathers were not present in the home were more likely to become pregnant than those who had regular contact and good relationships with their fathers.* Parents’ educational level also contributed to the risk of teen pregnancy. Those teenagers whose parents have lower levels of education are more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior, and more likely to become pregnant.

Teen religious and educational involvement

Teenagers who have a low occurrence involvement in religious and educational activities are more likely to experience teen pregnancy. Involvement in religious activities is one of the strongest factors related to a later sexual debut (including waiting until marriage). Additionally, teens that focus on school activity are less likely to engage in intercourse, and are more likely to use birth control when they do.

Teen Pregnancy at Risk Main source:

  1. “Preventing Sexual Risk Behaviors and Pregnancy Among Teenagers: Linking Research and Programs,” Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, Vol. 35, No. 2, March/April 2003. Guttmacher Institute. [Online.]

* “Father’s Absence Increases Daughter’s Risk of Teen Pregnancy,” Center for the Advancement of Health. [Online].