Although a number of national efforts have been launched to reduce
the number of teenage pregnancies, most unintended and unwanted
pregnancies occur in adults, according to Carol Hogue, professor
of epidemiology in the Rollins School of Public Health.
Sex education for teenagers is the norm, but there is virtually
no sex education targeted at adults, Hogue said. All
pregnancies should be intendedconsciously desired at the time
Americans are aware of the burden teenage pregnancies place on
individuals, families and communities, but many are unaware of how
this issue also involves adults. A national campaign, such as those
similar to efforts used to discourage smoking or encourage seatbelt
use, is needed to adopt new behaviors for adults and their sexual
behavior, Hogue said.
Many adults lack even the most basic information on human
sexuality and contraception or they dont have access to contraception,
she said. Their access is limited due to finances, partner
attitudes or religious constraints.
Hogue currently is involved in a study to understand the role religion
plays in the contraceptive practices of sexually active women. The
study also will examine the determinants of unhappy pregnancies
and whether the determinants differ culturally.
Hogues study is part of the collaborative research efforts
of the Universitys Center of Interdisciplinary Study of Religion.
Emory scholars have joined in a two-year project on Sex, Marriage
and Family in an effort to understand how the religions of
Christianity, Islam and Judaism impact family life.
To collect data, Caucasian, African American and Hispanic women
visiting health facilities for pregnancy tests are asked to complete
anonymous questionnaires while they await their results. The preselected
health facilities are rural clinics in Valley, Ala., and West Point,
Ga., and two public health clinics in Cobb and Gwinnett counties.
Examining a womans religious beliefs is a critical
part of capturing a full understanding of her attitudes about an
unintentional pregnancy, Hogue said. Because, ultimately,
unintentional pregnancies can mean unhappy pregnancies.
Unhappy pregnancies may open the door to future public health
issues like abortions, divorce and reduced parenting resources for
other children, she said. This is primarily a problem
for adult women, not teenagers.