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Girls whose friends have experienced teen childbirth are less likely to get pregnant themselves, a new study suggests.
The researchers compared two groups of teen girls: Those with a similarly aged friend who’d given birth and those with a friend who’d had an early miscarriage.
They wanted to see whether these events affected the girls’ choices in having sex, getting pregnant, having a child, and getting married as teens – or their choices regarding school, marriage, and family as adults.
Altogether, the investigators studied 595 young women from across the US, interviewing them multiple times over the years, starting in 1994-1995 when they were in their early teens.
Compared to girls whose friends had miscarried, those whose friends became teen mothers were less likely to have sex as teens, get pregnant or get married, and more likely to attain their college degree.
“Teens learn from their friends’ mistakes,” study co-author Dr. Olga Yakusheva of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor told Reuters Health by phone.
“It’s common sense, really – we obviously know few people would follow their friends jumping off the proverbial cliff, but that’s how we used to think about peer influences among teens,” she said.
But the study, published June 16 in the Journal of Adolescent Health, suggests that teens learn from their friends’ mistakes. (Reuters Health)