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Medical News

Risky Sex With Many Partners Predicted Young: Study

March 29, 2007

New research shows that risky sexual behavior in teens can be predicted when children are as young as age nine. Study authors tracked 167 US teens for the first 16 years of life and found an association between aggressive and delinquent behavior as children and risky, unprotected sex as teens.

By age 16, 60 percent of the group reported having had sex. Half of sexually experienced teens were considered at "low risk" because they had few partners and reported consistent contraception use. Sexually active teens were very similar to those who abstained from sex, except they looked more physically mature, had closer bonds with their friends, and were more likely to drink alcohol, said Dr. Melanie Zimmer-Gembeck, a Queensland-based Griffith University researcher who was part of the study team.

The other half of sexually experienced teens, 25 percent, reported five or more sexual partners and said they rarely used protection. The researchers found these high-risk teens had a long and clear history of family and behavioral problems.

"Kids with risky sexual behavior at 16 were already showing signs of aggression and delinquency problems at age nine," said Zimmer-Gembeck. "That means there's a much longer pathway to sexual risk-taking than we thought."

The study, "Sexual Partners and Contraceptive Use: A 16-Year Prospective Study Predicting Abstinence and Risk Behavior," was published in the Journal of Research on Adolescence (2007;17(1):179-206).

Back to other news for March 29, 2007

Adapted from:
Australian Associated Press
03.21.2007; Tamara McLean

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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