A recent study in Philadelphia suggests that girls in their seventh grade having trouble in reading are more likely to get pregnant during high school compared to average or above-average readers.
Researchers said that the pattern remained unchanged even after discounting factors like race or poverty level in the neighborhood the girl resides in; which are both already tied to teen pregnancy risks.
DR. Krishna Upadhya, Reproductive Health and Teen Pregnancy researcher from Johns Hopkins Children's Center, Baltimore said that while social disadvantage is a known risk for teen pregnancy, poor educational achievement is another. Poor academic achievements could play into how teens perceive their future economic opportunities and influence their risk taking abilities.
For the study, Dr. Ian Bennett from University of Pennsylvania and his colleagues analyzed reading-test scores of approximately 12,339 seventh grader girls from 92 public schools in Philadelphia and tracked them for the next six years. In this period, 1, 616 girls had a baby and 201 girls delivered two or more babies.
While researchers observed that Hispanic and African American girls were more likely to get pregnant compared to white girls, education seemed to play a vital role as well. Among those who scored below average in reading tests, 21 percent got pregnant as teenagers against 12 percent who scored average and five percent who scored above-average scores during standardized reading tests.
While considering poverty and race as factors influencing teen pregnancy, girls having below-average reading skills seemed two and a half times more likely to get pregnant compared to average-scoring girls. Teenage moms and their babies have more health problems and pregnancy-related complications. Moreover young moms are more likely to drop out of school.
Dr. Upadhya said that attempts should be made to retain such girls in schools and provide quality education programs to give them an opportunity to grow and develop academically and vocationally.