Like father, like son: the intergenerational cycle of adolescent fatherhood

Am J Public Health. 2010 Mar;100(3):517-24. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2009.177600. Epub 2010 Jan 14.


Objectives: Strong evidence exists to support an intergenerational cycle of adolescent fatherhood, yet such a cycle has not been studied. We examined whether paternal adolescent fatherhood (i.e., father of study participant was age 19 years or younger when his first child was born) and other factors derived from the ecological systems theory predicted participant adolescent fatherhood.

Methods: Data included 1496 young males who were interviewed annually from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997. Cox regression survival analysis was used to determine the effect of paternal adolescent fatherhood on participant adolescent fatherhood.

Results: Sons of adolescent fathers were 1.8 times more likely to become adolescent fathers than were sons of older fathers, after other risk factors were accounted for. Additionally, factors from each ecological domain-individual (delinquency), family (maternal education), peer (early adolescent dating), and environment (race/ethnicity, physical risk environment)-were independent predictors of adolescent fatherhood.

Conclusions: These findings support the need for pregnancy prevention interventions specifically designed for young males who may be at high risk for continuing this cycle. Interventions that address multiple levels of risk will likely be most successful at reducing pregnancies among partners of young men.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology*
  • Ecology
  • Father-Child Relations
  • Fathers* / psychology
  • Fathers* / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intergenerational Relations*
  • Juvenile Delinquency / psychology
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Paternal Age
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy in Adolescence* / prevention & control
  • Pregnancy in Adolescence* / psychology
  • Pregnancy in Adolescence* / statistics & numerical data
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Prospective Studies
  • Psychological Theory
  • Psychology, Adolescent
  • Regression Analysis
  • Risk Factors
  • Systems Theory
  • United States / epidemiology