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Obstet Gynecol. 2002 Jul;100(1):37-45.

Adverse childhood experiences and risk of paternity in teen pregnancy.

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  • 1National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia 30341, USA.



Few studies have investigated risk factors that predispose males to be involved in teen pregnancies. To provide new information on such factors, we examined the relationships of eight common adverse childhood experiences to a male's risk of impregnating a teenager.


We conducted a retrospective cohort study using questionnaire responses from 7399 men who visited a primary care clinic of a large health maintenance organization in California. Data included age of the youngest female ever impregnated; the man's own age at the time; his history of childhood emotional, physical, or sexual abuse; having a battered mother; parental separation or divorce; and having household members who were substance abusers, mentally ill, or criminals. Odds ratios (ORs) for the risk of involvement in a teen pregnancy were adjusted for age, race, and education.


At least one adverse childhood experience was reported by 63% of participants, and 34% had at least two adverse childhood experiences; 19% of men had been involved in a teen pregnancy. Each adverse childhood experience was positively associated with impregnating a teenager, with ORs ranging from 1.2 (sexual abuse) to 1.8 (criminal in home). We found strong graded relationships (P <.001) between the number of adverse childhood experiences and the risk of involvement in a teen pregnancy for each of four birth cohorts during the last century. Compared with males with no adverse childhood experiences, a male with at least five adverse childhood experiences had an OR of 2.6 (95% confidence interval [CI] 2.0, 3.4) for impregnating a teenager. The magnitude of the ORs for the adverse childhood experiences was reduced 64-100% by adjustment for potential intermediate variables (age at first intercourse, number of sexual partners, having a sexually transmitted disease, and alcohol or drug abuse) that also exhibited a strong graded relationship to adverse childhood experiences.


Adverse childhood experiences have an important relationship to male involvement in teen pregnancy. This relationship has persisted throughout four successive birth cohorts dating back to 1900-1929, suggesting that the effects of adverse childhood experiences transcend changing sexual mores and contraceptive methods. Efforts to prevent teen pregnancy will likely benefit from preventing adverse childhood experiences and their associated effects on male behaviors that might mediate the increased risk of teen pregnancy.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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