Teenage girls more frequently use the pill or the patch, but their doctors should recommend IUDs or hormonal implants, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, a leading group of health care providers focused on women’s health.


In releasing its updated guidelines for teens last week, the group said that physicians should discuss IUDs and implants with sexually active teens during every office visit, the Associated Press reports.  IUDs and implants – long-lasting birth control methods that you don’t have to remember to use once they’re in place – are nearly 100 percent effective at preventing pregnancy.


Two reasons teens aren’t using IUDs and implants: cost and access.  IUDs and implants cost more initially and require a doctor to put them in place, but they are the most reliable way to prevent pregnancy, the group said.


Dr. Tina Raine-Bennett, the head of the committee that wrote the recommendations, told the Associated Press that physicians need to be sensitive to mixed reactions from patients who may feel that IUDs and implants are too invasive.  She also said that physicians need to provide detailed information to dispel any myths and allow teens to make informed decisions.


Check out the section devoted to birth control in the California Pregnant and Parenting Youth Guide .  If you are a pregnant or parenting teen, you should talk to a doctor, nurse or health counselor about which method of birth control is right for you.  There are also resources on the Web – such as Scarleteen’s post on Birth Control Bingo – that break down the pros and cons of various birth control methods.


Just in time for Father’s Day, a new Child Trends Research Brief out this week takes a look at the characteristics of teen fathers, providing information on teen fathers at the time of the birth of their first child and later as they become young adults.


The numbers are not insignificant. The study found that nearly one in ten young men between the ages of 12 and 16 in 1996 (reflecting the group of young men examined in this brief) became fathers before their twentieth birthday.


Additional findings include:


  • Most young men who father a child during their teens are 18 or 19 years old.


  • Most teen fathers are not living with a partner at the time their first child is born.


  • Less than one-half of teen fathers live with their first child at the time of the birth.


  • Almost one-half of the men who fathered a child as a teen have more than one child by the time they are between ages 22 and 24.


Researchers recommend prevention and intervention efforts for teen parents that target both men and women, and addressing repeat teen pregnancy and multiple-partner fertility issues. They conclude “Taking a closer look at teen fathers’ unique circumstances and experiences may help to prevent early fatherhood and subsequent teen births, especially with different partners, and may better equip the current generation of teen fathers with the parenting skills they need to succeed.”


The California Pregnant and Parenting Youth Guide has information on pregnancy prevention and information specific to teen dads. Check out our recent blog post to learn more about fathers’ rights.


To read the full study, “The Characteristics and Circumstances of Teen Fathers: At the Birth of Their First Child and Beyond,” click here.

Researchers conducted a real-life test of the effectiveness of various birth control methods and found more U.S. women got pregnant while using short-acting methods (birth control pills, patches and vaginal rings) over long-acting contraception (intrauterine devices (IUDs), hormone shots and skin implants).  The failure rate was of pills, patches and vaginal rings were highest when they were used by women under 21.


Participants under 21 who used pills, patches, or rings had a risk of unintended pregnancy that was almost twice as high as the risk among older study participants.


The California Pregnant and Parenting Youth Guide has an entire section devoted to birth control.  The Guide answers questions on how teens can access birth control.  Some examples are:


  • How can I prevent pregnancy?
  • Do I need my parents’ permission to get birth control?
  • How can I get emergency contraception (EC)?
  • How can I get birth-control services?
  • Can Family PACT help me with prenatal care, abortion, or other services?


If parenting teens have questions about which birth control method is right for them, they should talk to a doctor, nurse, or health counselor.  There are also resources on the web that break down the pros and cons of various birth control methods.  Check out Scarleteen’s post on Birth Control Bingo to learn more.


“Effectiveness of Long-Acting Reversible Contraception” was published in the New England Journal of Medicine on May 24.

A new study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Center for Health Statistics finds that fewer babies were born to teenagers (ages 15-19) in 2010 than in any year since 1946.


The United States’ teen birth rate dropped 17 percent from 2007 through 2010, to a record low, and it has dropped 44 percent since 1991. Rates fell across all teen age groups, racial and ethnic groups, and in nearly all states, including California.


California’s teen birth rate decreased significantly between 2007 and 2010.  In 2007, California had 53,417 teen births, compared with 43,116 teen births in 2010.  Mississippi had the highest rate of teen births in 2010, with 55.0 births per 1,000 teenagers while California’s rate was 31.5 births per 1,000 teenagers.


Experts attribute the decrease in teen births to a number of factors including:


  • the increased use of contraception at first initiation of sex;
  • use of dual methods of contraception (such as condoms as well as hormonal methods) among sexually active teens; and
  • the fact that more teens are delaying sex.

Black and Hispanic teens are still having children at the greatest rate but the gap is closing.  Nationally, the number of black teens having children declined from 1-in-16 in 2007 to 1-in-20 in 2010, while the Hispanic birth rate declined from 1-in-13 to 1-in-18 over the same period.  Just 1-in-100 Asian teens and 1-in-43 white teens gave birth in 2010.


The study’s authors note, “In spite of these declines, the U.S. teen birth rate remains one of the highest among other industrialized countries.  Moreover, childbearing by teenagers continues to be a matter of public concern because of the elevated health risks for teen mothers and their infants. In addition, significant public costs are associated with teen childbearing, estimated at $10.9 billion annually.”


Check out the full study, “Birth Rates for U.S. Teenagers Reach Historic Lows for All Age and Ethnic Groups,” online.

A new Pediatrics study finds that many pharmacies may give teen girls incorrect information about whether they can get emergency contraception (EC) without a prescription when they call to inquire.  The “morning-after pill” is taken to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex or birth control failure.  In California, the law allows anyone age 17 and older to access to emergency contraception without a prescription.

In the study, research assistants called 943 chain and independent pharmacies in Nashville, Tenn.; Philadelphia, Pa.; Cleveland, Ohio; Austin, Texas and Portland, Ore., pretending to be either a 17-year-old girl or the doctor of one, looking to get the morning-after pill.  Most of the pharmacies – about 80 percent – told both girls and doctors that they had EC in stock.  But one in five of the teen callers was told incorrectly that it would be impossible to obtain EC under any circumstances.  And when the morning-after pill wasn’t available, about one-third of pharmacies didn’t suggest any other options for how girls or their doctors could access it.

Studies like this, demonstrating miscommunication between pharmacies and teens seeking emergency contraception, are a reminder that teens need accurate and unbiased information from adults they trust.  The California Pregnant and Parenting Youth Guide clearly states how and where teens can access contraception – including emergency contraception.

It states:


If you are 17 or older, you can…

  • buy it over-the-counter at a pharmacy (ask the pharmacist), or
  • get it from a family-planning clinic or a county health clinic.


If you are 16 or younger, you can…

  • get it from a family planning clinic or a county health clinic, or
  • get a prescription from a doctor or a private or county health clinic.


Sometimes you can get a prescription from a pharmacist, and he will give you EC. To see if there’s a pharmacy near you where you can get EC without a doctor’s prescription


To learn more about EC and where to get it


“This is a delicate topic, and it could be something that’s very sensitive for the teenager calling,” Dr. Tracey Wilkinson, the study’s lead author and a pediatrician at Boston Medical Center, told Reuters Health.  “If you don’t give the right information or you’re not willing to have a discussion about how to help get the medication, the adolescent might just give up.”

“Pharmacy Communication to Adolescents and Their Physicians Regarding Access to Emergency Contraception” is available online.



A study from the Guttmacher Institute released this week finds that rates of teen pregnancy have declined dramatically – reaching their lowest levels in nearly 40 years.  But even with the dramatic reductions in pregnancy, birth and abortion rates among all racial and ethnic groups, disparities between black, white and Hispanic teens persist.


Though the teen pregnancy rate dropped by 37% among Hispanics, 48% among blacks and 50% among whites after peaking in the 1990s, the rates among black and Hispanic teens remain two to three times as high as those of white teens.   

There were also considerable disparities in birth and abortion rates:

  • Birthrates among black and Hispanic teens were twice the rates among whites.
  • The abortion rate for Hispanic teens was twice the rate of whites.
  • The abortion rate for black teens was four times that of whites.

The study’s lead author, Kathryn Kost, said, “The continued inequities among racial and ethnic minorities are cause for concern. It is time to redouble our efforts to ensure that all teens have access to the information and contraceptive services they need to prevent unwanted pregnancies.”


Overall, in 2008, about seven percent of U.S. teens became pregnant.  Study authors say a state-level report will follow when data are available.


“U.S. Teenage Pregnancies, Births and Abortions, 2008: National Trends by Age, Race and Ethnicity,” contains the most current national estimates of teenage pregnancy, birth and abortion rates and numbers.  It is available online.



Yesterday’s Los Angeles Times reported on new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data that finds even though rates of teen pregnancy are falling, the United States still has a higher rate of teen pregnancy than any other developed country.


The new study highlights that the problem stems from lack of access to contraception and education about how to use contraceptives effectively. 


Some highlights from the new study include:

  • Half of teen moms reported not using any method of contraception before getting pregnant.
  • Many teens had misconceptions about reproductive health – nearly 1 in 3 thought they could not get pregnant at the time, and 1 in 12 thought they, their husbands, or their partners were sterile.
  • Nearly 1 in 5 reported that their partner did not want to use contraception.
  • An alarmingly high number of teen moms reported having trouble getting birth control.
  • Hispanic teens were more likely than white or black teens to report that they did not use contraception because they thought they could not get pregnant at the time.


The California Pregnant and Parenting Youth Guide answers questions such as: How can I prevent pregnancy; Where can I access emergency contraception;  How can I get birth control services; and much more.  If you are a teen looking for answers, check out the sex and pregnancy section of the Guide today!