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The functions of pregnancy in the lives of British Columbia street involved young women in 2000 Callaghan, Stephanie

Abstract

Street involved adolescents are 4 times more likely to become pregnant than at-home adolescents; they are less likely to seek out prenatal care due to a variety of reasons, resulting in a higher risk of pregnancy complications. Previous studies that examined the meanings, experiences and functions of pregnancy in the lives of street involved young women have been exploratory in nature, and focused on developing theory, not testing theory. This study was a secondary analysis was of the 2000 British Columbia Street Youth Survey from the McCreary Centre Society [N=238 girls ages 12-19 years, 36% ever pregnant], to test the functions of pregnancy in the lives of street-involved girls as first postulated by E. Saewyc in her 1999 study, and affirmed by others since. Age-adjusted regression analyses were performed to determine whether pregnancy experience was associated with participant responses to questions in the survey that could indicate reconnecting to family, maturing or settling down, stepping away from risk behaviours, opportunities for a new life, and access to health and social services; for significant relationships, further analyses were performed comparing the ever pregnant sample with the never pregnant sample to assess the prevalence of behaviours or mean ranks on attitudinal measures. Statistical analyses revealed few instances where the functions of pregnancy were supported within this Canadian sample; the only area was the ever-pregnant sample did show higher interest in receiving or having received drug/alcohol treatment. However, the inability of this study to support the original findings may be due to the limitations of performing a secondary analysis rather than the soundness of the theories themselves; post hoc power analyses indicated limited power for most specific analyses. Alternatively, perhaps pregnancy is a form of harm reduction,but once the child is born, the effects are gone. Further research to test the reasons for pregnancy among street-involved young women is needed. The six functions of pregnancy provide a testable theory for future research, but the study design may need to use the functions as the basis for developing more precise questions to collect data in a new sample.

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