The University of Texas Medical Branch has been awarded a two-year, $1.4 million grant focused on helping reduce teen pregnancies.

Nearly a quarter of a million babies are born to adolescent females each year. The principal investigator of the study, Dr. Jeff Temple, says the “impacts of teen pregnancy are substantial and persist across the lifespan.”
The grant from the Department of Health and Human Services will allow researchers to study, analyze and compare the effectiveness of existing teen pregnancy prevention and healthy relationships programs.
Researchers also will examine the link between dating violence, sexual assault and teen pregnancies.
“We will leverage four large data sets of ethnically diverse pre- and early adolescent youth drawn from randomized trials of sexual-risk reduction and healthy relationship-promotion interventions,” Temple said.  “This large sample will allow us to overcome the methodological limitations of prior efforts and determine which factors are most impactful in preventing adverse sexual health outcomes, as well as the factors important in reducing disparities in adverse sexual-health outcomes.”
Dr. Ben Raimer, UTMB president ad interim, said that the federal grant is an example of UTMB helping to improve the health of people across their lifespans.
“Pregnancy in adolescence is associated with negative long-term academic, career and health outcomes; and often these negative outcomes are carried to their offspring,” Raimer said.
Dr. Elizabeth Baumler, an investigator on the study, added that the offspring of teen parents also are more likely to become teen parents themselves, contributing to a cycle of poor health and risky sexual behaviors.
“What we want to do is determine which intervention methods work best to reduce risky sexual behavior,” Baumler said. “We also want to identify variables that lead to disparities among races and ethnicities so that the next generation of researchers can develop and implement empirically supported core components of teen prevention programs.”