Sexual Health Behaviors and Pregnancy Risk Among Hospitalized Female Adolescents

Hosp Pediatr. 2021 Oct;11(10):1129-1136. doi: 10.1542/hpeds.2021-005810. Epub 2021 Sep 13.


Objectives: To describe sexual health behaviors, contraceptive use, and pregnancy risk among hospitalized female adolescents.

Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional survey of hospitalized female patients aged 14 to 21 years at 2 academic medical centers to assess sexual health behaviors, contraceptive use, contraceptive counseling receipt, and factors associated with pregnancy complications (eg, diabetes, teratogenic exposure). We calculated the validated Pregnancy Risk Index (PRI) (number per 100 who will become pregnant in the next year).

Results: Among 177 participants (mean age 16 years, SD 1.5), 75 (43%) were sexually active. At last vaginal sex, 65% reported condom use; 49%, reversible contraception; and 12%, long-acting reversible contraception (LARC). Past-year contraceptive counseling was reported by 73% of sexually active female participants and was associated with increased use of reversible (P = .001) and dual contraception (P = .03) but not LARC (P = .24). The mean PRI among all participants was 4.75. Nearly three-quarters (73%) had a medical comorbidity or teratogenic exposure. Those with teratogenic medication use had the lowest PRI of 0.32 (P < .05), with 88% using reversible contraception and 31% using LARC.

Conclusions: Hospitalized female adolescents had a PRI similar to that of adolescents in the general population. However, nearly three-quarters had a medical comorbidity and/or teratogenic exposure, which increased risk for pregnancy complications. Contraceptive counseling was associated with increased reversible and dual contraception use but not LARC use. Efforts to improve comprehensive contraceptive counseling, highlighting LARC, are critically needed in this population.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Contraception
  • Contraception Behavior*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Humans
  • Long-Acting Reversible Contraception*
  • Pregnancy