Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 39, Issue 3, pp 664–673

Predictors of Sexual Debut at Age 16 or Younger

  • Patricia A. Cavazos-Rehg
  • Edward L. Spitznagel
  • Kathleen K. Bucholz
  • John NurnbergerJr.
  • Howard J. Edenberg
  • John R. Kramer
  • Samuel Kuperman
  • Victor Hesselbrock
  • Laura Jean Bierut
Original Paper


The present study examined the extent to which variables within the self system (i.e., symptoms of alcohol dependence and conduct disorder, gender, race, and metropolitan status) and the familial system (i.e., having an alcohol dependent biological parent or second-degree relative, religious background, educational background of parents, and being born to a teenage mother) were associated with sexual debut at 16 years old or earlier. Participants were 1,054 biological relatives, aged 18–25 years, of alcohol dependent probands who participated in the Collaborative Study on the Genetics of Alcoholism project. Comparison participants (N = 234) without alcohol dependent biological parents were also evaluated. Clinical and sociodemographic variables were assessed by structured, personal interviews. Parental history of alcohol dependence was evaluated by direct interview of parents in most cases and family history in uninterviewed parents. In a multivariate survival analysis, increased risk of becoming sexually active at 16 years of age or earlier was significantly associated with 6 of the 10 predictor variables, including race, one or more alcohol dependence symptoms, and/or one or more conduct disorder symptoms. Having an alcohol dependent biological parent or second-degree relative (e.g., aunt, uncle, or grandparent), educational background of mother, and being born to a teenage mother were also significantly associated with increased risk. These results provide evidence that specific variables in the self and familial systems of influence are important in predicting sexual debut at 16 years old or earlier.


High risk behaviors Familial alcoholism Sexual debut Conduct disorder 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Patricia A. Cavazos-Rehg
    • 1
  • Edward L. Spitznagel
    • 2
  • Kathleen K. Bucholz
    • 1
  • John NurnbergerJr.
    • 3
  • Howard J. Edenberg
    • 4
  • John R. Kramer
    • 5
  • Samuel Kuperman
    • 5
  • Victor Hesselbrock
    • 6
  • Laura Jean Bierut
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryWashington UniversitySt. LouisUSA
  2. 2.Department of MathematicsWashington UniversitySt. LouisUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychiatryIndiana University School of MedicineIndianapolisUSA
  4. 4.Department of Biochemistry and Molecular BiologyIndiana University School of MedicineIndianapolisUSA
  5. 5.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of Iowa College of MedicineIowa CityUSA
  6. 6.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of Connecticut Health CenterFarmingtonUSA

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