Pregnancy risk among older youth transitioning out of foster careedit
Youth served in the foster care system have higher rates of pregnancy than general population youth; yet we have little information about risk and protective factors to target in order to prevent early pregnancy in this population. We assessed early pregnancy risk and protective factors known for general population adolescents for their relevance to youth in the foster care system. Using data from a longitudinal study of 325 older youth from the foster care system, we examined bivariate and multivariate relationships between these factors and pregnancy between ages 17 and 19 using logistic regression. Models examined the risk for early parenting separately by gender. The pregnancy rate increased by 300% between ages 17 and 19. At 19, 55% of females had been pregnant,while 23% of males had fathered a child. Although this study assessed multiple known factors, few were significant for this high risk group. Females who were not sexually active at age 17 were less likely to become pregnant, but those who reported using birth control were as likely to become pregnant as those who did not. Also, females with a history of arrest were more likely to have a pregnancy between 17 and 19. Males who left the foster care system before their 19th birthday were more likely to make someone pregnant. Youth from the foster care system are at exceptional risk of early pregnancy, regardless of their maltreatment history, religiosity, school connectedness, or academic achievement, particularly in the years between 17 and 19. This high risk group needs pregnancy prevention interventions and access to effective birth control.