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Contraception Urged for Younger Teen Girls

December 3, 2012
Plain English Version

Teen-age pregnancy in the United States has been going down over the last twenty years. Still, U.S. rates are the highest in the developed world.

Babies who are born to teens do less well in school and are more likely to have behavior problems.

With that in mind, the American Academy of Pediatrics said that contraception should be easily available to teenagers, including those under the age of 17. They point out that 80% of teen pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned.

They believe in more education and improving access to contraception. The report recommends that pediatricians prescribe the “morning after” pill to teens not yet sexually active.

One scientist said that prescribing pills to a youngster to prevent pregnancy  does not encourage sex. Rather, it is an opportunity to discuss the value of abstinence.

The most popular pregnancy prevention brand is “Plan B.” If taken within three to five days, it can prevent pregnancy by stopping the ovary from releasing an egg or by stopping sperm from fertilizing an egg. However, it is most effective if taken within 24 hours of unprotected or poorly protected sex.

Plan B is considered an emergency contraceptive and not a substitute for conventional contraceptives.

Today, teens 17 years of age or older can get pregnancy prevention pills without prescriptions or consent by parents. Doctors think pediatricians should step up their responsibility to prevent unwanted pregnancies by younger teens.

The Los Angeles Times

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