September 23, 1988

An 'Epidemic' of Adolescent Pregnancy?: Some Historical and Policy Considerations

Author Affiliations

Chapel Hill, NC

Chapel Hill, NC


by Maris A. Vinovskis, 284 pp, $24.95, New York, Oxford University Press, 1988.

JAMA. 1988;260(12):1794-1795. doi:10.1001/jama.1988.03410120140052

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This historical review of adolescent sexuality and pregnancy since colonial times, including perspectives on the role or nonrole of the adolescent father and the origins of federal programs and policies whose outcomes frequently were different from what was intended, reads like a bedtime novel.

The author, a practicing historian and a consultant and adviser to the Reagan administration, has a gift of uniquely weaving personal observations and involvements with changing trends and mores.

Dr Vinovskis makes a strong, statistically supported statement that an "epidemic" of adolescent pregnancy is not a phenomenon of the 1980s but actually peaked in the 1950s, and it has only been in the last 20 years that the federal government has attempted to provide solutions. During the Carter and Reagan administrations, some legislators sought a solution for unintended adolescent pregnancies by promoting contraception, while others found the answer in federally assisting young mothers and their infants.