Research tends to examine adolescent rapid repeat pregnancy, which is a subsequent pregnancy within two years of giving birth to a previous child (Asheer, Berger, Meckstroth, Kisker, & Keating, 2014; Black et al., 2006), because the first two years of motherhood is the most precarious time for young mothers (Zeck, Bjelic-Radisic, Haas, & Greimel, 2007). However, two years may not be sufficient for predicting the phenomenon of adolescent repeat pregnancy, especially for those who become mothers early in adolescence. Thus, understanding the occurrence of repeat pregnancy beyond two years and what predicts these pregnancies is important for prevention research. The purpose of this study is to longitudinally examine whether and when adolescent mothers experience repeat pregnancy using discrete-time series survival analysis. Additionally, this study tests how family support variables help predict the timing and risk of adolescent repeat pregnancy.
METHODS: This study uses secondary data from the National Longitudinal Study of Youth, 1997 cohort, which contains 17 years of data. The sample consists of 362 first time adolescent mothers who gave birth to their first child on or before their 20th birthday. The majority of the sample were Black adolescent mothers (44.8%) who gave birth to their first child at age 18 (M = 18.47, SD = 1.21). The average time from their first birth to their subsequent pregnancy was approximately 3 years (M = 3.16, SD = 2.6). Within this sample, 35 adolescent mothers did not report experiencing a repeat pregnancy during the study period.
RESULTS: Results of this study found that 50% of adolescent mothers experience a repeat pregnancy by two years postpartum and experience their highest risk for repeat pregnancy at years one and six after giving birth to their first child. Additionally, across several predictors of parental support, adolescents who receive more support from their parents have earlier repeat pregnancies and are consistently at the highest risk for a repeat pregnancy during the study period.
CONCLUSIONS: Examining the phenomenon of adolescent repeat pregnancy longitudinally provides prevention researchers with important information regarding when prevention efforts may be most salient, and potentially when programs should intervene or re-intervene with adolescent mothers. Although, findings regarding family support require further examination, they are interesting to note, and may call for a better understanding of when family support may be a protective or risk factor for adolescent mothers. Additionally, understanding the effects of family support on adolescent mothers’ outcomes is important for development of family-inclusive programs for pregnant and parenting adolescents.