Teenage motherhood is ‘contagious’

August 9th, 2011 - 9:55 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Aug 9 (IANS) Sister of a teenage mother is twice as likely to follow in her footsteps compared to one with no family experience of early motherhood, a study has found.

The ‘peer effect’ on girls aged 16 to 19 was shown to have a far more powerful impact than any education or advice they are given at school, the Daily Mail reported Tuesday quoting the study. It was most pronounced when the sisters were close in age.

Researchers studied census figures from 42,606 women in Norway in the 1960s, as its data is unique in linking teenage pregnancy with family relationships.

The study found that if a girl became a teenage mother, the probability of her nearest younger sister doing the same increased from a one-in-five chance to two in five, the Mail said.

Higher education levels and affluent family background tended to lower rates of teenage pregnancy in developed countries.

But Professor Carol Propper, who led the study, said: “These findings provide strong evidence that the contagious effect of teen motherhood in siblings is larger than the general effect of being better educated.”

National Statistics figures show that in 2009 - the most recent year for which there are records - the rate of conception among UK women under 18 was 38.3 per 1,000 girls, just 17 percent down from 46.6 in 1998, according to the Mail.

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