- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 28, 2008

UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL

Teenage girls whose boyfriends are gang members are nearly twice as likely to become pregnant as girls not dating boys in gangs, U.S. researchers said.

Researchers at RTI International, the University of California at San Francisco, and the University of North Carolina examined the relationship between gang exposure and pregnancy among 237 sexually active females ages 14 to 19 from predominantly Hispanic neighborhoods in San Francisco.

The study, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, found that a girl’s gang membership did not affect her pregnancy risk, but girls with gang-affiliated boyfriends were twice as likely as their peers to become pregnant. Girls whose boyfriends had spent time in jail were also more likely to become pregnant.

During the study, 27.4 percent of the participants became pregnant.

The researchers suggest there may be increased perceived social pressures for gang members to have a baby, or girls with gang-involved partners may be less willing to require contraceptive use.

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