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.
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.
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.
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 turned 15.
The study's findings were scheduled for presentation at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association in New York City.
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