Friday, January 3rd, 2014
A new study has found that women who use long-term birth control methods like intrauterine devices (IUDs) after having a baby are less likely to become pregnant again quickly than women who rely on other methods of birth control. More from Reuters:
The World Health Organization endorses a two-year period between birth and a woman’s next conception.
Still, one third of all repeat pregnancies in the U.S. occur within 18 months of the previous child’s birth. And a growing body of evidence shows this close timing increases the risk a baby will be born early or at a low birth weight.
The time between pregnancies “cannot be explained only by the mother’s preferences,” Heike Thiel de Bocanegra said.
She and her colleagues from the University of California, San Francisco investigated the link between access to birth control or family planning services and pregnancy spacing.
In the current study of 117,644 California women who’d had at least two children, 64 percent waited 18 months or more between pregnancies and the rest did not.
All women included in the study filed claims through the state’s Medicaid program for the poor, called Medi-Cal, or through health providers offering state-funded family planning services.
The researchers matched data on claims for contraceptives to California’s birth registry.
“We assumed that access to contraception . . . would improve birth spacing,” Dr. Anitra Beasley wrote in an email to Reuters Health.
“This study actually examines this assumption,” she said.
Beasley, who studies family planning at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, was not part of the current research.
Women who used long-acting reversible contraception, including IUDs or implants, were four times more likely to wait at least 18 months to conceive again, compared to those who only used “barrier” contraceptives like condoms or spermicide.
More than half of women started using birth control pills, the ring or the patch after giving birth. They were twice as likely to wait at least 18 months between pregnancies as condom users.
Those relationships stood firm even when the researchers looked at possible influences like the mother’s race, education, age and whether she was born in the U.S., according to the report published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
Image: Birth control words, via Shutterstock
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Wednesday, November 13th, 2013
A decade ago, 60 percent of American college students used condoms when having sex, but that number has fallen since. This discouraging news comes at the same time as reports of rising rates of sexually-transmitted diseases, with half of new STD diagnoses coming from young people. More from Time.com:
A recent study released by the Sex Information and Education Council of Canada found that nearly 50% of sexually active college students aren’t using condoms. Other reports have foundthat while teenagers are likely to use a condom the first time they have sex, their behavior becomes inconsistent after that.
Health officials from Oregon to Georgia are ringing alarm bells about rising rates of sexually transmitted diseases, worried that kids aren’t getting the message. Sex education is more robust than it was for previous generations, but a 2012 Guttmacher Institute report revealed that while nearly 90% of high schools are teaching students about abstinence and STDs, fewer than 60% are providing lessons about contraception methods.
The CDC estimates that half of new STD infections occur among young people. Americans ages 15 to 24 contract chlamydia and gonorrhea at four times the rate of the general population, and those in their early 20s have the highest reported cases of syphilis and HIV. Young men and women are more likely than older people to report having no sex in the past year, yet those who are having sex are more likely to have multiple partners, which increases the risk of STDs.
“We need to do better as a nation,” says Laura Kann, an expert in youth risk behaviors at the CDC. “Far too many kids in this country continue to be infected with HIV and continue to be at risk.”
Recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics urged high schools to make condoms available to students, citing STDs as a main concern.
Image: Condom, via Shutterstock
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AIDS, birth control, chlamydia, college students, condoms, gonorrhea, HIV, sex, STDs, teens | Categories:
Education, New Research, Parenting News, Trends
Tuesday, October 29th, 2013
In an updated policy statement, its first since 2001, the American Academy of Pediatrics is recommending that schools make condoms available to teenagers alongside providing instruction on sexual education topics. More from Reuters:
There is still some resistance to making condoms more accessible for young people, researchers said.
“I think one of the main issues is the idea that if you provide condoms and make them accessible, kids will be more likely to have sex. But really, that’s not the case,” Amy Bleakley said.
“Getting over the perception that giving condoms out will make kids have sex is a real barrier for parents and school administrators,” she told Reuters Health.
Bleakley studies teen sexual behavior and reproductive health at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia but wasn’t part of the AAP committee.
She said some studies suggest teenagers with access to condoms and comprehensive sex education actually start having sex later than their peers who don’t.
Teen birth rates have been declining in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2011, there were 31 births for every 1,000 U.S. women aged 15 to 19.
But that number is still higher than in other developed countries.
Rates of many sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including Chlamydia and gonorrhea, are also highest among teenage and young adult women.
Image: Condoms, via Shutterstock
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Monday, September 9th, 2013
Researchers at the National Center for Health Statistics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, both federal agencies, have released new data confirming that the number of babies born to teenaged mothers has dropped by 6 percentage points to 29.4 births per thousand in 2012–the lowest number since the agencies started collecting this data 73 years ago. The decline was across all racial and ethnic groups, and analysts attribute much of the drop to more women using effective birth control methods. More from NBC News:
The 2012 number is “a considerable one year drop,” says pediatrician Dr. John Santelli, a professor of population and family health at Columbia University who has no connection to the study. And it follows fairly sizable declines since 2007, when the rate was 41.5 births per thousand young women ages 15 to 19. In fact, except for a small uptick between 2005 and 2007, the teen birth rate has been steadily declining since 1991, when it reached 61.8 births per thousand.
“Our data comes from the birth certificate that parents complete at the hospital and it provides a wealth of information,” says Brady E. Hamilton, a statistician with the National Center for Health Statistics and the lead author of the report. But to figure out why the teen birth rate is falling, “we have to rely on other sources,” Hamilton says, such as surveys that the CDC conducts of high schoolers.
Santelli has studied those and other survey results. “There is not much evidence of a change in abortion use and not much change in sexual activity” since 2003, says Santelli. For example, the percentage of high school kids reporting ever having sexual intercourse was about 54 percent in 1991, according to the CDC survey, declined through 2002, and then held steady at about 47 percent through 2011, the last year of available data.
“What we have seen is greater availability of much more effective birth control methods,” says Santelli. While condom use increased substantially in the 1990s and early 2000s among high schoolers, it actually declined slightly after that, according to the CDC survey. At the same time, medical professionals have increasingly been recommending the IUD, a small, plastic device that is inserted and left inside the uterus to prevent pregnancy, says Santelli. While it does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases, it can be used in combination with a condom, which does offer such protection.
“Young people sometimes use condoms incorrectly, and sometimes they forget to use condoms,” says Santelli. “There is almost zero user error with the IUD. Once it is in place, it works every time.”
Image: Teenage couple, via Shutterstock
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Wednesday, May 1st, 2013
The birth control medication known as the “morning-after pill” will soon be available without a prescription to women age 15 and older, the Food and Drug Administration announced Tuesday. More from CNN.com:
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This move comes just weeks after a federal judge in Brooklyn, New York, ordered the FDA to make the morning-after birth control pill available to women of any age, without a prescription. Tuesday’s FDA announcement, which pertains to an application from Teva Women’s Health, Inc., is not related to that, the FDA said.
“The FDA’s approval of Teva’s current application for Plan B One-Step is independent of that litigation and this decision is not intended to address the judge’s ruling,” the FDA said in a statement.
In early April, the U.S. Justice Department indicated an appeal of the Brooklyn judge’s order was under consideration. “The Department of Justice is reviewing the appellate options and expects to act promptly,” department spokeswoman Allison Price said.
According to the new FDA decision, Plan B One-Step will now be labeled to reflect that proof of age is required to purchase it, and it cannot be sold where age cannot be verified. The packaging will include a product code that prompts the cashier to ask and verify the age of the customer.
The product will be available in retail outlets with pharmacies, but the pill can be sold during non-pharmacy hours, too.
“While we fully support this expansion of access to birth control, we continue to believe that the administration should lift all unnecessary restrictions to emergency contraception, consistent with the prevailing science and medicine,” Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards said Tuesday in a statement.
The FDA decision does not pertain to the two other emergency contraceptive drugs marketed in the United States. Plan B is available from generic manufacturers over-the-counter for women 17 and older and Ella is available by prescription only, for all ages, and prevents pregnancy within five days of unprotected sex or contraceptive failure.