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Fam Plann Perspect. 1999 Jan-Feb;31(1):29-34.

Pregnancies averted among U.S. teenagers by the use of contraceptives.

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  • 1Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of California, San Francisco, USA.

Abstract

CONTEXT:

The personal and social costs associated with teenage pregnancy in the United States concern many policymakers and researchers, yet the role of contraception in preventing these pregnancies has not been adequately quantified.

METHODS:

Published estimates of contraceptive effectiveness were applied to 1995 National Survey of Family Growth data on sexual and contraceptive practices in order to estimate the number of pregnancies averted through the use of contraceptives by U.S. teenagers. Four scenarios of contraceptives access--from current levels of access to highly restricted access--and teenagers' sexual and contraceptive practices in response to such restrictions are used to project the potential impact on pregnancies among teenagers.

RESULTS:

Current levels of contraceptive use averted an estimated 1.65 million pregnancies among 15-19-year-old women in the United States during 1995. If these young women had been denied access to both prescription and over-the-counter contraceptive methods, an estimated one million additional pregnancies (ranging from 750,000 to 1.25 million) would have occurred, assuming some decrease in sexual activity. These pregnancies would have led to 480,000 live births, 390,000 abortions, 120,000 miscarriages, 10,000 ectopic pregnancies and 37 maternal deaths.

CONCLUSIONS:

Contraceptive use by teenage women prevents pregnancies and negative pregnancy-related health consequences that can disrupt the lives of adolescent women and that have substantial societal costs. Continued and expanded access to contraceptives for adolescents is a critically important public health strategy.

PIP:

An analysis of the number of adolescent pregnancies and pregnancy outcomes that are averted in the US each year by contraceptive use highlighted the importance of continued and expanded access on the part of young people to contraception. In this analysis, published estimates of contraceptive effectiveness were applied to 1995 National Survey of Family Growth data on sexual and contraceptive practices among US teenagers. Four scenarios of contraceptive access--from current levels to highly restricted access--and sexual and fertility control practices in response to such restrictions were constructed. The 651 sexually active female adolescents enrolled in the national survey had used contraception during 80% of the times in which they were at risk of pregnancy. Current levels of contraceptive use averted an estimated 1.65 million pregnancies among 15- to 19-year-old US women in 1995. If these adolescents had been denied access to prescription and over-the-counter contraceptive methods, an estimated 750,000 to 1.25 million additional pregnancies would have occurred, assuming some decrease in sexual activity. These pregnancies would have resulted in 480,000 live births, 390,000 induced abortions, 120,000 miscarriages, 10,000 ectopic pregnancies, and 37 maternal deaths. The prevalence of adolescent sexual activity would have to decrease by 83% over current levels to avert the same number of pregnancies that are presently prevented by contraceptive use.

PMID:
10029930
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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