Is parental incarceration associated with risky sexual behavior in young adults?


Le, Gianna; Deardorff, Julianna; Lahiff, Maureen; & Harley, Kim (2018). Is parental incarceration associated with risky sexual behavior in young adults?. 2018 Add Health Users Conference. Bethesda, MD.


Objective: To estimate the associations between parental incarceration and sexual risk outcomes (early sexual onset, inconsistent condom use, and sexually transmitted infections [STIs]). Methods: We used logistic regression to estimate associations of risk taking behaviors with parental incarceration in childhood in a sample of 3,972 young people participating in The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health). Results: Parental incarceration increased the odds of early sexual onset (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 1.5, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.2-2.0) and STIs (AOR =1.9, 95% CI = 1.2-3.0). Maternal incarceration was more strongly associated with early sexual onset (AOR = 4.0, 95% CI = 2.1-7.4), inconsistent condom use (AOR = 2.6, 95% CI = 1.1-6.4), and STIs (AOR = 3.5, 95% CI = 1.1-11.8) than paternal incarceration. Additionally, parental incarceration occurring before age 10 increased the odds of STIs (AOR = 2.1, 95% CI = 1.2-3.9). Conclusions: Parental incarceration, especially maternal imprisonment, is associated with risky sexual behavior and sexually transmitted infections in young adults in the US. Implications: This study is the first to investigate the influence of parental incarceration on the sexual health of young adults in a nationally representative sample. The high burden of sexually transmitted infections among young people warrants identification of vulnerable subgroups such as children of incarcerated parents.

Reference Type

Conference proceeding

Book Title

2018 Add Health Users Conference


Le, Gianna
Deardorff, Julianna
Lahiff, Maureen
Harley, Kim

Year Published


City of Publication

Bethesda, MD

Reference ID