We sought to understand pregnancy rates, outcomes, and pregnancy-related factors among a court-involved commercially sexually exploited youth (CSEY) population.METHODS:
We conducted an exhaustive chart review of the court files of 363 judicially-involved CSEY within Los Angeles during 2012–2016. Data was summarized using descriptive statistics. Chi-squared tests were performed to explore potential associations between pregnancy and youths' behavioral health profiles.RESULTS:
Of the 363 CSEY, 70% were African-American, 23% Hispanic, 5% White, 1% Asian, and 1% other. Three hundred fifty-nine participants were female, 2 male, and 2 were transgender male-to-female. Of the biological females, 110 (31%) reported ever being pregnant, including 19 youth who reported 2 pregnancies, and 1 youth who reported 3 pregnancies. Pregnancy outcomes for the 130 pregnancies were as follows: 99 had live births (76%), 6 had miscarriages/stillbirths (5%), 17 had therapeutic abortions (13%), and 8 were still pregnant at the time their court files were closed (6%). The youngest age at first pregnancy was 12-year old-and the average age at first pregnancy was 16-year-old. Mental health and substance use profiles for ever-pregnant versus never-pregnant youth did not significantly differ.CONCLUSION:
Given the high rates of pregnancy in CSEY, presumably many of which are unplanned, we recommend exploring ways in which family planning education and reproductive care access can be improved for this highly vulnerable youth population. Despite extremely high rates of behavioral health challenges in the CSEY population, the observed lack of relationship between behavioral health profiles and pregnancy further demonstrates that all CSEY are at heightened risk of teen pregnancy.