Saturday, April 20, 2024

Rapid Repeat Pregnancy Among African American Teenage Couples

Rapid repeat pregnancy is getting pregnant or giving birth within the 24 months post giving birth, and it has been linked with prematurity, low birth weight, inadequate prenatal care, and school dropout; as well as, increased the potential for poverty and prolonged welfare dependence.

Until today; RRP has only been described for adolescent females and has not been examined for adolescent males or within the context of the adolescent parent couple.

The purpose of the article is to describe the phenomenon of RRP in a group of unmarried, low-income.

African American adolescent parent couples from the perspectives of their kinship system; i.e., the adolescent parents and their parents or parental figures.

Qualitative approaches excel at finding common traits that define a particular group or subgroup.

The research question for this study asks; which shared factors define the subgroups of kinship systems in which the adolescent parents reported RRPs?

Examining RRP within the context of the adolescent parent couples and their parents can expand our knowledge of contributing factors; thus, improving data for evidence-based, efficacious interventions.

Causes Behind It

pregnant black teenager

An ecological approach provides rational ideologies to expand the definition of rapid repeat pregnancy (RRP) beyond adolescent females.

This theoretical approach explains the dynamic and mutually accommodating interactions between a human and the changing properties of the immediate settings within which the human lives that occur throughout his or her life course.

This approach is particularly suitable for studying first-time, unmarried, low-income; African American teenage parents; who are experiencing both developmental and role transitions; while coping with challenges in the larger contexts that influence their immediate settings; such as age, race, and socioeconomic status.

The immediate setting of these adolescent parents includes the parents of the adolescent parents; the grandparents of their babies.

Births to adolescents have reached a historic low despite an overall 28% increase in the number of adolescent females in the U.S.

The rate of births for females aged 15–19 years, 34.3 live births per every 100,000 15–19-year-old females; is lower than any year since the mid-1940s.

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There are, however; significant regional differences with both initial and repeat births higher in the south and southwest and lower in the northeast and upper Midwest a pattern that has persisted for some years.

Subsequent pregnancies for adolescent males have not been nearly as well studied but research with similar adult fathers suggests the potential for negative outcomes.

Fathering children during adolescence has been linked with having children with multiple female partners in later life; which may lead to decreased involvement with the initial children, And consequently potentially poorer developmental outcomes for those children.

African American fathers are twice as likely as either Caucasians or Latinos; to become fathers during adolescence and have approximately double the incidence of fathering children with multiple partners as the general population.



Data here are from a larger longitudinal qualitative study that examined paternal involvement of unmarried, low-income; African American adolescent fatherhood data were collected in a large Midwestern metropolitan area from the multiple perspectives of their kinship systems.

Each kinship system consisted of an adolescent father, his parent/parental surrogates, his pregnant adolescent partner; and her parent/parental surrogates.

Our inclusion criteria were: both adolescent parents had to identify themselves as African American; be 14 – 19 years of age and unmarried; experiencing their first full-term pregnancy and agree that they both wanted the adolescent father to remain involved with their expected baby after the birth.

Additionally, each adolescent parent had to identify at least one parent or parental surrogate; willing to participate in the study and who reported a household income less than 200% of the United States Department of Health and Human Services Poverty Threshold.

When biological parents were not available we asked each adolescent parent to identify at least one person who acted toward them as a parent.

Including both biological and surrogate parents of adolescent parents was consistent with the flexible family roles of African American culture.

Our exclusion criteria were: the adolescent couple had plans to marry before the birth of the baby, planned to give the baby up for adoption, or that the adolescent mother’s pregnancy had been diagnosed as high risk.

Despite our screening criteria one of the babies in our study died of a congenital heart condition shortly after the kinship system completed the 24- month interviews.

Situational Factors


Situational factors, described in more detail elsewhere; were the most commonly identified themes for kinship systems of adolescent fathers who were not involved with their babies at 24 months.

The situational factor themes with short definitions were:

  • New romantic partner for either teenage parent it is subsequent pregnancy; for either adolescent parent it is hostility; between the paternal and maternal families for at least six months:
  • Paternity doubts – paternal family doubts regarding the adolescent father’s paternity;
  • Denying access, the maternal family denied access to the baby to the adolescent father; intimate partner violence (IPV) –
  • Adolescent father physically or verbally abused the adolescent mother, and physical absence of the adolescent father;
  • Not available due to physical causes such as long term imprisonment, death, or mental illness.

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