TODAYShow.com: In the world of television programming, sex sells -- perhaps a little too well with young viewers, a new study suggests.
The RAND Corp. study is the first of its kind to identify a link between teenagers' exposure to sexual content on TV and teen pregnancies. The study, released Monday and published in the November edition of the journal Pediatrics, found that teens exposed to high levels of sexual content on television were twice as likely to be involved in a pregnancy in the following three years as teens with limited exposure.
The study's authors are quick to point out that the factors leading to teen pregnancies are varied and complex -- but they say it's important for parents, teachers and pediatricians to understand that TV can be one of them.
"We were surprised to find this link," said Anita Chandra, the study's lead author and a behavioral scientist at RAND, a non-partisan, non-profit research organization. "But teens spend a good amount of their time watching television -- an average of three hours a day -- and we don't know a lot about its impact on their health decisions ...
"We don't think that (TV) is necessarily more significant than some of the family and neighborhood factors that can lead to teen pregnancies. But even when we removed all the other factors, we still saw a compelling link between a high exposure to sexual content on television and teen pregnancies."
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