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J Adolesc Health. 1999 Apr;24(4):251-8.

Demographic characteristics in adult paternity for first births to adolescents under 15 years of age.

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Maternal and Child Health Branch, California Department of Health Services, Sacramento, USA.



To examine parental demographic characteristics by adult (> or = 20 years at baby's conception) and teenage (< 20 years at baby's conception) paternity in births to very young adolescents (< 15 years at baby's conception).


This was a population-based, retrospective cohort analysis of all 12,317 very young adolescent mothers residing in California with a first singleton live birth during 1993-1995. Risks for adult, compared to teenage, paternity were evaluated using multivariate logistic regression.


Adult fathers, responsible for 26.7% of births to very young adolescents, were a mean of 8.8 years older than the mother. The risk factors for adult compared to adolescent paternity were as follows: father's educational attainment of at least 3 years below that considered adequate for his age [adjusted odds ratio (AOR) = 8.34], father's (AOR = 2.46) or mother's (AOR = 1.36) educational attainment 1-2 years below that considered adequate for their age, mother's birthplace outside the United States (AOR = 3.12), and father's Hispanic ethnicity (AOR = 1.60) or African-American race (AOR = 1.50).


Adult fathers were responsible for over one quarter of the births in our study. Adolescent pregnancy prevention focusing on younger adolescents must programmatically address adult paternity. Variations in adult paternity patterns across cultural groups suggest that we need further study of the role that cultural beliefs and practices play in very young adolescent pregnancy.


This study examined parental demographic characteristics among persons aged over 20 years, under 20 years, and under 15 years at conception of the first birth in California. Data were obtained from California birth certificates in 1993, 1994, and 1995 and from the 1990 Census. The sample included 12,317 very young mothers of a total of 657,122 single first live births to California residents. The mean age of very young mothers was 13.7 years. Very young mothers tended to be in high school, Hispanic, and born in the US. The birth rate for mothers aged 10-14 years was 1.4/1000; 2.6/1000 for Hispanics, 3.0/1000 for African-Americans, and 0.3/1000 for Whites. Adult males were fathers of 24.3% of babies born to mothers aged 11-12 years. The mean age of fathers was 22.7 years. Adult males were fathers of 26.8% of babies born to mothers aged 13-14 years. Final multivariate models reveal that inadequate educational attainment was a risk factor for adult paternity in births to very young mothers. The risk for adult paternity increased as the father's education adequacy decreased. Race or ethnicity were lower risk factors than father's educational attainment. Very young adolescent mothers who were foreign born were very likely to be involved with an adult male. Adult fathers were an average of 8.8 years older than very young mothers. Adolescent pregnancy prevention programs need to target adult men.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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