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Revista Brasileira de Epidemiologia

On-line version ISSN 1980-5497


GONCALVES, Helen et al. Sexual initiation among adolescents (10 to 14 years old) and health behaviors. Rev. bras. epidemiol. [online]. 2015, vol.18, n.1, pp.25-41. ISSN 1980-5497.


To assess the prevalence of sexual initiation until the age of 14 years old, as well as sociodemographic and behavioral factors.


In 2008, 4,325 from the 5,249 adolescents of the 1993 birth cohort in Pelotas, Rio Grande do Sul, were interviewed. Sexual initiation was defined as the first intercourse up to the age of 14 years old. The information was obtained by interviewing adolescents in their houses, during the 2008 follow-up. The analyzed variables were: skin color, asset index, maternal and adolescents' schooling, experimental use of tobacco and alcohol, drunkenness episode, use of any illicit drug, illegal drug use by friends and involvement in fights during the past year. Use of condoms and contraceptive methods, number of partners and the age of sexual initiation were also analyzed.


The prevalence of sexual initiation by the age of 14 was of 18.6%. Lower schooling, asset index and maternal education were related to higher prevalence of sexual initiation until the age of 14, as well as being male or being born to adolescent mothers. Sexual intercourse was also related to the behavioral variables analyzed. Among adolescent girls who had intercourse up to the age of 14, 30% did not use contraception and 18% did not use condoms in the last sexual intercourse. Boys reported a higher number of sexual partners than girls.


The results suggest a relationship between sexual intercourse (≤ 14 years) and some health-risk behaviors. The non-use of condoms and contraceptives may make them vulnerable to experiencing unwanted situations. Education and sociocultural strategies for health should be implemented from the beginning of adolescence.

Keywords : Adolescent; Risk taking; Sexual behavior; Sexual and reproductive health; Sexual behavior; Cohort studies.

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