Teen Pregnancy Is Deemed ‘Contagious’ Between Sisters

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If you have one teenage daughter who has become a mother, be mindful of her younger sister. A study of Norwegian women who gave birth in the 1970s and 1980s shows that if an older teenage sister gives birth, her younger sister is twice as likely to follow in her foot steps.

The “peer effect” as reported by The Telegraph is stronger when sisters are closer in age and in low-income households. Although education has been noted to decrease a girl’s chance of becoming pregnant in her teenage years, this study confirmed that a pregnant older sister “dwarfs” the impact of education.

Following examples in the home is nothing new to children, regardless of their age or circumstances. The daughters of teen mothers are also more likely to become teen mothers themselves, perpetuating the general cycle of poverty, little to no education, and joblessness.

Yet, it is unsettling that after investing a hefty sum into, for example, educational opportunities and tuition, your older daughter’s unintended pregnancy could potentially determine the fate of the younger. What terms like “statistics” and “likelihood” don’t take into account however are the intervening tactics by committed parents.

Stressing the sacrifices of young motherhood to your youngest daughter upon getting such family news is something that I doubt parents in the 1970s and 1980s may have done.