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June 26, 1987

Youth Pregnancy: A Community Solution

Author Affiliations

Centers for Disease Control Atlanta

Centers for Disease Control Atlanta

JAMA. 1987;257(24):3410. doi:10.1001/jama.1987.03390240116038

The problem of preventing teen pregnancies has been especially perplexing in the United States. Despite evidence of recent declines, we have one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy in the developed world, and the economic costs of teen pregnancy are staggering. In 1985, $16.65 billion was spent on families begun when the mother was a teen; virtually all of those costs are associated with public assistance including Aid to Families With Dependent Children, Medicaid, and food stamps.1

Educational efforts to offset the human and economic costs that attend teen pregnancies face formidable barriers. One is a marketing issue: sex sells everything. Sexual attractiveness is coupled with everything from independence to worldly sophistication and forms a predominant theme in every nook and cranny of commercial communication. These themes get the attention of adults and teens alike, but are especially alluring to adolescents who are grappling with their identity and