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Perm J. 2010 Fall;14(3):18-27.

The Protective Effect of Family Strengths in Childhood against Adolescent Pregnancy and Its Long-Term Psychosocial Consequences.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Few reports have addressed associations between family strengths during childhood and adolescent pregnancy and its consequences. We examined relationships among a number of childhood family strengths and adolescent pregnancy, risk behavior, and psychosocial consequences after adolescent pregnancy.

METHODS:

Our retrospective cohort of 4648 women older than 18 years (mean age, 56 years) received primary care in San Diego, CA. Outcomes included adolescent pregnancy and psychosocial consequences compared with number of the following childhood family strengths: family closeness, support, loyalty, protection, love, importance, and responsiveness to health needs.

RESULTS:

Of the cohort, 3082 participants (66%) reported 6 or 7 categories of childhood family strengths. Teen pregnancy occurred in 39%, 33%, 30%, 25%, 24%, 21%, and 19% of those with 0 or 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 childhood family strengths, respectively (p for trend < 0.00001). When childhood abuse and household dysfunction were present, adjusted odds ratios (ORs) for adolescent pregnancy demonstrated an increasingly protective effect as numbers of childhood family strengths increased from 0 or 1 to 2 or 3, 4 or 5, and 6 or 7 (1.0 to 0.80), (1.0 to 0.80, 0.60, and 0.54, respectively). These findings were partly explained by progressive delays in initiation of sexual activity as the number of childhood family strengths increased. Adjusted ORs for psychosocial problem occurring decades later decreased as the number of childhood family strengths increased from 0 or 1 to 2 or 3, 4 or 5, and 6 or 7 (job problems, 1.0, 0.8, 0.6, 0.4; family problems, 1.0, 1.1, 0.7, 0.6; financial problems, 1.0, 0.9, 0.9, 0.6; high stress, 1.0, 1.1, 0.9, 0.8; uncontrollable anger, 1.0, 0.7, 0.7, 0.4).

CONCLUSIONS:

Childhood family strengths are strongly protective against adolescent pregnancy, early initiation of sexual activity, and long-term psychosocial consequences.

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