Factors associated with childhood sexual abuse and adolescent pregnancy

Cynthia McNiss, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Infectious Disease, Lebanon, NH, United States of America. Electronic address: laclairc@duq.edu.
Melissa Kalarchian, School of Nursing and Department of Psychology, Duquesne University, Pittsburg, PA, United States of America.
Jennifer Laurent, University of Vermont, School of Nursing, Burlington, VT, United States of America.


BACKGROUND: People who experience childhood sexual abuse (CSA) have a higher rate of adolescent pregnancy than people who do not experience CSA. The purpose of this integrative review was to identify risk or protective factors that are associated with this group to help understand the high rate of adolescent pregnancy in people with CSA histories. METHODS: This review was conducted using strategies described by Whittemore and Knafl (2005). Five research articles met the following criteria: written in English, published in peer-reviewed journals in the past 10 years, and included the examination of predictors of adolescent pregnancy in any domain of the social ecological model of individual, relationship, community, or societal factors present among girls with CSA histories. RESULTS: Studies suggest that people who are abused in childhood through adolescence and are not believed when they report abuse may be at greater risk for pregnancy in adolescence. CSA was associated with a range of sexual risk taking behavior (e.g., ineffectual contraception use, drug and alcohol use prior to sex, multiple partners) which could lead to adolescent pregnancy. Individual-level behaviors where predominantly studied. There were no reports at the community or societal level of the model. CONCLUSIONS: Identifying additional risk or protective factors at the relationship, community, and societal level may prove helpful in developing strategies tailored to this population. The unique characteristics that lead to higher rates of sexual risk-taking behavior that can lead to adolescent pregnancy have not been well documented and deserve further study to guide design and prevention/intervention modalities.