Thursday, November 6, 2008

Boyfriend pressure makes black teen girls more likely to want pregnancy

Black teen girls who think their boyfriends want a baby are 12 times more likely to wish they were pregnant compared with similar teens who expressed no desire to become pregnant, according to new research. Girls in the study who wanted to become pregnant were almost four times as likely to have a partner who was at least five years older than themselves. They were also twice as likely to report feelings of low self-esteem and low family support, and twice as likely to feel that their partner would disapprove of using condoms. For the study, the researchers surveyed and interviewed 462 sexually active black teen girls between 14 and 18 years old living in low-income Birmingham neighborhoods. Forty percent of the participants had a previous pregnancy, but girls who wanted to become pregnant were less likely to report a past pregnancy.

Studies suggest that these girls may experience a power imbalance in their sexual relationships, since their boyfriend's age and perceived reluctance to use condoms have such a significant effect on the girls' pregnancy wishes. This may mean that adolescent boys would be a good target for early pregnancy prevention programs, according to the researchers. Although factors like self-esteem were not as strongly associated with pregnancy desires, "other studies suggest that early parenthood is perceived by some adolescents as an opportunity to heal childhood wounds, receive support from family members or obtain emotional closeness not found at home," say the researchers.

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