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Correlates of Pregnancy Before Age 15 Compared With Pregnancy Between the Ages of 15 and 19 in the United States

Smid, Marcela MD, MS, MA; Martins, Summer MPH; Whitaker, Amy K. MD, MS; Gilliam, Melissa MD, MPH

doi: 10.1097/AOG.0000000000000136
Contents: Original Research

OBJECTIVE: To compare pregnancy risk factors and outcomes between females in the United States with pregnancy occurring before age 15 years and between ages 15 and 19 years.

METHODS: We analyzed data from the 2006 to 2010 National Survey of Family Growth. Our sample included women aged 20 to 44 years at the time of interview who reported first pregnancy before age 20 years (n=3,095). Using weighted multivariable logistic regression, we compared demographics, family characteristics, sexual debut circumstances, and pregnancy intendedness and outcome among females with pregnancy occurring before age 15 years and between the ages of 15 and 19 years.

RESULTS: Overall, 3.4% (n=289) of women reported their first pregnancy occurring before age 15 years, and 39.5% (n=3,095) of women reported their first pregnancy between ages 15 and 19 years. Women with pregnancies before age 15 years were more likely to be Hispanic (23.5% compared with 22.4%; adjusted odds ratio [OR] 1.84; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.07–3.20), to be black (31.7% compared with 19.4%, adjusted OR 2.24; 95% CI 1.47–3.42), to report their first sexual partner was at least 6 years older (35.9% compared with 17.0%; adjusted OR 3.34; 95% CI 1.71–6.51), and to report that the index pregnancy was unintended (88.9% compared with 74.9%; adjusted OR 2.57; 95% CI 1.27–5.17). They were less likely to report being raised within a religion (Catholic: 22.8% compared with 33%; adjusted OR 0.32; 95% CI 0.17–0.59; Protestant: 54.6% compared with 51.3%; adjusted OR 0.52; 95% CI 0.27–0.98), living with both biological parents at age 14 years (33.3% compared with 53.4%; adjusted OR 0.49; 95% CI 0.33–0.71), and using contraception at sexual debut (25.3% compared with 56.0%; adjusted OR 0.29; 95% CI 0.18–0.46).

CONCLUSION: Understanding risk factors for pregnancy before age 15 years may help clinicians address the social, family planning, and reproductive health needs of this population.


Females whose first pregnancies occur before the age of 15 years have distinct correlates compared with those whose first pregnancies occur at ages 15 to 19 years.

Section of Family Planning and Contraceptive Research, Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Chicago, Chicago Illinois.

Corresponding author: Marcela Smid, MD, MS, MA, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, 3010 Old Clinic Building, CB# 7516, Chapel Hill, NC 27599; e-mail:

Presented at the North American Forum on Family Planning, October 27–29, 2012, Denver, Colorado.

Financial Disclosure The authors did not report any potential conflicts of interest.

© 2014 by The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Published by Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.