Pregnancies More Common for Adult Women Than Teenagers
Researches Link to Religion and Contraceptive Practices
Although a number
of national efforts have been launched to reduce the number of teenage
pregnancies, the most unintended and unwanted pregnancies occur in adults,
says Emory University epidemiologist Carol Hogue, Ph.D., M.P.H., professor,
Rollins School of Public Health.
"Sex education for teenagers
is the norm, but there is virtually no sex education targeted at adults,"
Hogue says. "All pregnancies should be intended consciously desired
at the time of conception."
Americans are aware of the
burden that teenage pregnancies place on individuals, families and communities,
but unaware of how this issue also involves adults. A national campaign,
such as those similar to efforts used to discourage smoking or encourage
seatbelt use, is needed to adopt new behaviors for adults and their
sexual behavior, Hogue says.
"Many adults lack even the
most basic information on human sexuality and contraception or they
don't have access to contraception. Their access is limited due to finances,
partner attitudes or religious constraints." Hogue is currently involved
in a study to understand the role religion plays in the contraceptive
practices of sexually active women. The study will also examine the
determinants of unhappy pregnancies and - whether the determinants differ
Hogue's study is part of
the collaborative research efforts of the Emory Center of Interdisciplinary
Study of Religion. Emory scholars have joined in a two-year project
on "Sex, Marriage and Family" in an effort to understand how the religions
of Christianity, Islam and Judaism impact family life.
To collect data, Caucasian,
African-American and Hispanic women visiting health facilities for pregnancy
tests are asked to complete anonymous questionnaires while they await
their results. The pre-selected health facilities are rural clinics
of Valley, Alabama and West Point, Georgia and two public health clinics
in the metropolitan Atlanta counties of Cobb and Gwinnett.
"Examining a woman's religious
beliefs is a critical part of capturing a full understanding of her
attitudes about an unintentional pregnancy. Because ultimately, unintentional
pregnancies can mean unhappy pregnancies," Hogue speculates.
"Unhappy pregnancies may
open the door to future public health issues like abortions, divorce
and reduced parenting resources for other children," she continues.
"This is primarily a problem for adult women, not teenagers."