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Age at First Sexual Intercourse and Teenage Pregnancy in Australian Female Twins

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 February 2012

Mary Waldron*
Affiliation:
Department of Psychiatry, Washington University School of Medicine, St Louis, Missouri, United States of America. waldronm@psychiatry.wustl.edu
Andrew C. Heath
Affiliation:
Department of Psychiatry, Washington University School of Medicine, St Louis, Missouri, United States of America.
Eric Turkheimer
Affiliation:
Department of Psychology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, United States of America.
Robert Emery
Affiliation:
Department of Psychology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, United States of America.
Kathleen K. Bucholz
Affiliation:
Department of Psychiatry, Washington University School of Medicine, St Louis, Missouri, United States of America.
Pamela A. F. Madden
Affiliation:
Department of Psychiatry, Washington University School of Medicine, St Louis, Missouri, United States of America.
Nicholas G. Martin
Affiliation:
Genetic Epidemiology Unit, Queensland Institute of Medical Research, Brisbane, Australia.
*
*Address for correspondence: Mary Waldron, Department of Psychiatry, Washington University School of Medicine, CB 8134, 660 S. Euclid, St Louis, MO 63110, USA.

Abstract

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Girls who report first sexual intercourse during their early teen years have much higher rates of teenage pregnancy and childbearing than girls who delay sexual onset until older adolescence. In this study, we examine genetic and environmental influences on variation in teenage pregnancy and covariation with age at first sexual intercourse in two cohorts of Australian female twins. In the older twin cohort, born 1893–1964, we observe substantial heritable variation in teenage pregnancy that is largely shared with heritable variation in age at first sexual intercourse, with shared environment contributintablg little to variation in teenage pregnancy. Genetic influences on teenage pregnancy are smaller and nonsignificant in the younger twin cohort, born 1964–1971, where shared environment contributes much more and overlaps entirely with shared environmental variation in age at first intercourse.

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Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2007
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