A Typology of Substance Use Among Pregnant Teens in the United States

Christopher P. Salas-Wright, Michael G. Vaughn, Jenny Ugalde

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives Previous research suggests that, in general, youth who become pregnant during their teenage years tend to report elevated levels of substance use prior to conception and substantial reductions in use during pregnancy. While such studies provide insight into aggregate patterns of adolescent substance use in relation to pregnancy, they may have the unintended effect of masking the behavioral heterogeneity of pregnant teens. Methods The present study employs data from a large, population-based study of adolescents in the United States. We employ latent class analysis to identify subgroups of pregnant adolescents (ages 12–17; n = 810) on the basis of variables measuring the past 12-month and past 30-day use of an extensive array of substances. Results Results revealed a four class solution. Classes were identified as Class 1: Abstainers (n = 344, 42.47 %), Class 2: Drinkers (n = 303, 37.41 %), Class 3: Alcohol and Cannabis Users (n = 77, 9.51 %), and Class 4: Polydrug Users (n = 86, 10.62 %). The Abstainers class had the highest proportion of Hispanic youth (34.3 %) as well as the highest proportion of youth residing in households earning less than $20,000 per year (44.2 %). The Polydrug Users class had the highest proportion of youth who were in late adolescence (75.58 %), non-Hispanic white (54.65 %), high-income (13.95 %), and in their first trimester of pregnancy (58.33 %). Conclusions for Practice Findings point to an important degree of heterogeneity among pregnant teens and may have implications for the development of interventions designed for youth exhibiting disconcerting patterns of substance use prior to pregnancy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)646-654
Number of pages9
JournalMaternal and Child Health Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Mar 1

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported in part by Grant Number R25 DA030310 (PI: J. Anthony) from the National Institute on Drug Abuse at the National Institutes of Health.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015, Springer Science+Business Media New York.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Epidemiology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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