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December 24, 1997

The Youngest Parents: Teenage Pregnancy as It Shapes Lives

JAMA. 1997;278(24):2193-2194. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03550240085046

More adolescents in the United States opt to become parents than to terminate their pregnancies. Why adolescent girls get pregnant and why they and their partners choose to become parents has been addressed by researchers. Robert Coles, however, decided to ask the adolescents themselves and, in a style he's used for so many of his interesting studies, created The Youngest Parents.

The book is based on conversations with pregnant adolescents and adolescent parents by Coles and his sons with the purpose of "learning about their lives, their hopes and worries." These were not structured interviews but occurred as individual meetings or in group settings, formal and informal, mainly in Boston, Mass, but also in cities like Washington, DC, New York, NY, Baltimore, Md, and rural centers and small towns of North Carolina and West Virginia. The young people represent all ethnic groups and a wide range of socioeconomic situations.