New research released today at the American Public Health Association's 140th Annual Meeting in San Francisco builds on previous knowledge about the link between teen pregnancy and social inequities internationally and suggests that, independent of other factors, low literacy in pre-teen girls strongly predicts childbearing among US teens.
This is the first study of its kind to examine the prospective link between literacy among US pre-teens and subsequent teen child bearing. Researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing linked seventh-grade reading among 12,339 girls (average age 11.9 years) enrolled in Philadelphia Public Schools to subsequent live birth records between 1996-2002. Findings reveal that girls with a less-than-average reading skill were 2.5 times more likely to have a child in their teen years compared with those with average reading skill. Twenty-one percent and three percent of girls with below-average reading skill had either one or two (or more) live births respectively during the six-year assessment period. Meanwhile, 12 percent and 1 percent of girls with average reading skill and 5 percent and 0.4 percent with above average reading skill had such births.