Study objective: To analyse sociodemographic differences in the occurrence of pregnancies to 14 to 19 year olds and changes in these differences from 1987 to 1998.
Design: Follow up of adolescent survey respondents using registers.
Setting and subjects: The dataset includes information on all registered pregnancies (abortions, births, and miscarriages, n=2743) of the female respondents (n=28 914) to the Adolescent Health and Lifestyle Survey (AHLS) from 1987 to 1998. In the AHLS, self administered questionnaires were mailed every second year to independent samples of 12, 14, 16, and 18 year olds representative for Finland.
Main outcome measure: Relative risk (hazard) of becoming pregnant at teenage.
Main results: Girls from lower socioeconomic background had a higher pregnancy risk. Girls who did not live with both parents at the baseline survey had higher pregnancy risk than those who did, and girls who lived in a stepfamily had a higher risk than those who lived in a one parent family. Swedish speaking girls had a lower pregnancy risk than the Finnish speaking girls. There was no systematic change from 1987 to 1998 in most sociodemographic differentials in the teenage pregnancy risk, however, there was some increase in the differences by family structure. Changes in the sociodemographic structure did not explain the levelling off of the downward trend in teenage pregnancy risk, nor did the regional socioeconomic differences explain regional differentials in teenage pregnancy risk.
Conclusion: Although the reduction of socioeconomic and regional differences has been a general objective in Finnish social and health policies, the relative differences in teenage pregnancies have not decreased.
- adolescent pregnancy
- sociodemographic factors
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Funding: the first stages of the study and the process of building up the joint register data set were financed by a grant from the Finnish Ministry of Social Affairs and Health (RASKE Project) and the Academy of Finland (Research Programme on Health and Other Welfare Differences between Population Groups, and a post-doctoral fellowship for Andres Vikat). The Adolescent Health and Lifestyle Survey was supported by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health.
Conflicts of interest: none.