Teen gamblers more likely to have risky sex than non-gamblers

Feb. 26, 2014 at 2:00 AM
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NEW YORK, Feb. 26 (UPI) -- A study of African-American youth in Baltimore schools found almost half had gambled at least once before age 18, U.S. researchers say.

First author Dr. Silvia Martins, an associate professor of epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University in New York and colleagues at Johns Hopkins University, also found more gamblers than non-gamblers had initiated sexual intercourse by age 18.

The data also showed that for those who had gambled by age 18, 46 percent were frequent gamblers.

The study, published online in Addictive Behaviors, found among those who had initiated sexual activity, more gamblers than non-gamblers with high impulsivity at age 13 had become pregnant or had impregnated someone.

The study also found approximately one third of the gamblers had sexual intercourse by age 13 and 89 percent had engaged in sexual intercourse by age 18.

By age 18, more male gamblers had impregnated someone by age 18 as compared to female gamblers becoming pregnant. Nine percent of the sexually active youth had ever has an sexually transmitted disease.

"Our findings are complementary to earlier studies that showed an association between gambling with an earlier age of onset of sexual activities, however, participants in these samples were predominantly white," Martins said in a statement.

"Despite evidence that problem gambling is more prevalent among African-American adolescents and adults, few adolescent studies included a large subgroup of African Americans in their samples. This study also goes above and beyond prior research as it shows that gambling youth are not only at risk of gambling problems, which are associated with numerous adverse interpersonal, financial, criminal and psychiatric consequences, but also at risk for sex-related behaviors such as adolescent pregnancy/impregnation."

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