Purpose No research has examined childbirth from a national perspective among females emancipating from foster care. The present study fills this gap by: (1) documenting the rates of initial and repeat births among females ages 17 and 19 in a national prospective study and (2) identifying risk and protective factors at age 17 that predict childbirth between ages 17 and 19. Methods This study used data from the National Youth in Transition Database and Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System to identify risk and protective factors associated with childbirth in a national sample of transition-age female youth (N = 3,474). Results The cumulative rate of childbirth by age 19 was 21%, with higher rates reported between ages 17 and 19 (17%; n = 602) compared with age 17 or earlier (9%; n = 313). In logistic regression analysis, black race and Hispanic ethnicity, placement with relatives, runaway status, trial home visit placement, early emancipation from foster care, and lifetime incarceration histories were associated with increased likelihood of childbirth. In contrast, school enrollment and employment skills were associated with decreased likelihood of childbirth. The multivariate odds of childbirth between ages 17 and 19 increased 10-fold if youth already had a child by age 17. Conclusions Sexual health and pregnancy prevention programs should specifically target youths who already have children. Increased attention should be paid to adolescents placed with biological families and those with histories of criminal involvement.
- Foster care
- Risk factors