PHILADELPHIA, Sept. 17 (UPI) -- Areas of the United States associated with conservative religious beliefs have higher teen mother birth rates, researchers say.
Joseph Strayhorn, an adjunct faculty member with Drexel University in Philadelphia and the University of Pittsburgh, and colleagues used data from the Pew Forum's U.S. Religious Landscapes Survey and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to arrive at their conclusion.
The religiosity of a state was determined by averaging the percentages of respondents who agreed with the eight most conservative opinions possible in the Religious Landscapes Survey, such as: "There is only one way to interpret the teachings of my religion" or "Scripture should be taken literally, word for word."
"The magnitude of the correlation between religiosity and teen birth rate astonished us," Strayhorn said in a statement.
"Our findings by themselves do not, of course, permit causal inferences. But, if we may speculate on the most probable explanation, we conjecture that religious communities in the U.S. are more successful in discouraging the use of contraception among their teenagers than they are in discouraging sexual intercourse itself."
The findings are published in the journal Reproductive Health.