Preteen girls' reading skills can strongly predict whether they'll get pregnant when they're teens, a new study suggests.
University of Pennsylvania researchers looked at the reading skills of more than 12,000 girls when they were in grade 7 (average age 11.9 years) in Philadelphia public schools and then checked to see how many of them gave birth when they were teens.
Girls with below-average reading skills in grade 7 were 2.5 times more likely to have a child during their teenage years than those with average reading skills, the investigators found.
Among preteen girls with below-average reading skills, 21 percent had one baby and 3 percent had two or more babies during their teens, compared with 12 percent and 1 percent, respectively, of girls with average reading skills, and 5 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively, of those with above-average reading skills.
The study was scheduled for presentation Oct. 31 at the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association and will be published in the February 2013 issue of the journal Contraception.
Source: U.S. News & World Report