Teen girls at higher risk OK with emergency department offering pregnancy prevention info

July 14, 2017, Children's National Medical Center

Adolescent girls receiving a wide range of medical care in the Emergency Department (ED) are receptive to receiving information about preventing pregnancy, according to the results of a cross-sectional survey published online July 11 in the Journal of Pediatrics.

According to a study team led by Children's National Health System, about 615,000 U.S. adolescents—or 5.9 of every 100 girls and teens—become pregnant each year. More than three-quarters of these pregnancies are unintended. Less than one-third of adolescents report having received contraceptive counseling, and about the same percentage reported using condoms the most recent time they had sex.

"Because so few adolescents report having a primary care provider and 16 percent of the 130 million ED visits each year are made by this age group, the ED may represent an opportune venue to offer pregnancy prevention," says Monika K. Goyal M.D., M.S.C.E., assistant professor of pediatrics and emergency medicine at Children's National and senior study author. "It is also important to note that adolescents who seek in EDs are at higher risk for pregnancy than the national average, so targeting intervention to this group may have the unique potential to reduce unintended teen pregnancies."

The researchers relied on tablet computers and a web-based questionnaire to calculate for 219 non-pregnant females aged 14 to 21 who visited an urban pediatric ED and to assess the adolescents' receptiveness to receiving contraceptive care services within the ED. Study participants' mean age was 17. Sixty-nine percent were non-Latino black. Sixty-seven percent were publicly insured. Pregnancy risk was determined by scoring recent sexual activity, the type of contraceptive used and failure rates for that type of contraception.

Seventy-two percent of study participants said they were trying to avoid getting pregnant. However, 21 percent said they were unable to obtain birth control because they did not know where to go, were too embarrassed to ask or were worried their family would find out. Eighty-five percent said the ED should provide information about and contraception.

"The study volunteers' overall pregnancy risk was 9.6 - significantly higher than the national average risk of 5—but rose as high as 17.5 for the who were sexually experienced," Dr. Goyal says. "That means for every 100 girls, we would expect 9.6 to 17.5 pregnancies. Our findings support viewing the ED as a strategic venue to provide reproductive health services to reduce the high rates of unintended teenage pregnancies."

The study authors suggest that future research projects examine how to best integrate reproductive health services into ED care and quantifying the impact of such counseling on rates of unintended teen pregnancies.

Explore further: Decrease in rate of unintended pregnancies from 2008 to 2011

More information: Michelle Solomon et al, Examining the Role of the Pediatric Emergency Department in Reducing Unintended Adolescent Pregnancy, The Journal of Pediatrics (2017). DOI: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2017.06.053

Related Stories

Decrease in rate of unintended pregnancies from 2008 to 2011

March 3, 2016
(HealthDay)—The rate of unintended pregnancies in the United States decreased from 2008 to 2011, according to research published in the March 3 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Obese teens in study less likely to use contraception

July 1, 2015
A study of nearly 1,000 teens found that sexually active obese adolescents were significantly less likely to use contraception than normal weight peers, putting them at higher risk of unintended pregnancy.

Girls under 19 account for 30% of El Salvador pregnancies: UN

July 9, 2016
Nearly one in three pregnancies in El Salvador are to girls under 19, according to a UN report released Friday that highlights social pressures in the country, which bans abortion.

Long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) are safe, effective option

December 20, 2016
Long-acting reversible contraceptives are the most effective form of reversible birth control but not the most commonly used. Misconceptions and outdated misinformation prevent many people from realizing the benefits of intrauterine ...

Teen pregnancies, abortions plunge with free birth control

October 1, 2014
Teens who received free contraception and were educated about the pros and cons of various birth control methods were dramatically less likely to get pregnant, give birth or get an abortion compared with other sexually active ...

Poor young women at greater risk of unintended pregnancies

October 27, 2016
Poor women have fewer but longer relationships, use contraceptives less frequently and use less effective methods than women from more advantaged backgrounds, according to a new University of Michigan study.

Recommended for you

Teens get more sleep with later school start time, researchers find

December 12, 2018
When Seattle Public Schools announced that it would reorganize school start times across the district for the fall of 2016, the massive undertaking took more than a year to deploy. Elementary schools started earlier, while ...

Study highlights potential benefits of continuous EEG monitoring for infant patients

December 12, 2018
A recent retrospective study evaluating continuous electroencephalography (cEEG) of children in intensive care units (ICUs) found a higher than anticipated number of seizures. The work also identified several conditions closely ...

Scientists have identified and modelled a distinct biology for paediatric AML

December 11, 2018
Scientists have identified and modelled a distinct biology for paediatric acute myeloid leukaemia, one of the major causes of death in children.

Expert proposes method to help premature infants thrive in the hospital

December 11, 2018
Even when they're not actively feeding, infants are perpetually sucking on toys, pacifiers, their own fingers—whatever they can get ahold of.

Heavy screen time appears to impact childrens' brains: study

December 10, 2018
Researchers have found "different patterns" in brain scans among children who record heavy smart device and video game use, according to initial data from a major ongoing US study.

Siblings of children with autism or ADHD are at elevated risk for both disorders

December 10, 2018
Later-born siblings of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are at elevated risk for both disorders, a new study led by Meghan Miller, assistant professor in the ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.