-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
SUNDAY, Aug. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Teens who have half-siblings
-- brothers or sisters with a different father -- are more likely
to use drugs and have sex by age 15 than teens with only full
siblings, according to a new study.
Although this family scenario isn't new, researchers say it's
becoming more common as a growing number of unmarried people have
In conducting the study, researchers from Bowling Green State
University and Iowa State University examined how "multi-partnered
fertility" -- re-partnering and having more children -- affects
children's drug use and sexual behavior.
"We find that first-born adolescents with half-siblings with the same mother but a different father do have less favorable outcomes compared to their peers with only full siblings, even after accounting for the mother's background characteristics, socioeconomic factors the child experienced growing up, and family instability and structure," said researcher Karen Benjamin Guzzo, an assistant professor of sociology at Bowling Green.
The study's findings were scheduled for presentation Sunday at
the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association in New
York City. Data and conclusions presented at meetings are typically
considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical
For first-born children, multi-partnered fertility often means
enduring the breakup of their biological parents and living for a
time in a single-mother household. It could also mean experiencing
their mother finding at least one new partner, possibly living with
a stepfather and watching their mother have another child with
someone other than their father.
Although the study focused on mothers and their first-born
children who lived with their mother for most of their lives, the
researchers also considered the mother's level of education,
household poverty and the number of changes in family structure the
teens faced, such as whether their mother ever married or lived
with their father or another partner.
The study showed that by age 15, teens who have a half-sibling
with a different father are roughly 65 percent more likely to have
used drugs, including marijuana, stimulants, inhalants, cocaine,
crack, hallucinogens and sedatives. These teens were also about two
and a half times more likely to have had sex by the time they
The reasons for this association between risky teen behavior and
having half-siblings remains unclear, the researchers said in an
association news release. They hope to do more research to
determine if younger siblings react in the same way as first-borns,
and to explore differences in how teens view their relationship
with their mother.
Although the study showed an association between having
half-siblings and an increased likelihood of using drugs and having
sex as a teen, it did not prove a cause-and-effect
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides
more information on
teen alcohol and drug use.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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