Monday, October 8th, 2012
A new large-scale study has found that access to free contraceptive pills is part of the explanation for well-documented drops in the rates of both teen pregnancy and abortions. The finding comes just before the Obama administration’s health care law takes effect, including provisions that will offer birth control coverage to women nationwide. The Associated Press has more:
When price wasn’t an issue, women flocked to the most effective contraceptives — the implanted options, which typically cost hundreds of dollars up-front to insert. These women experienced far fewer unintended pregnancies as a result, reported Dr. Jeffrey Peipert of Washington University in St. Louis in a study published Thursday.
The effect on teen pregnancy was striking: There were 6.3 births per 1,000 teenagers in the study. Compare that to a national rate of 34 births per 1,000 teens in 2010.
There also were substantially lower rates of abortion, when compared with women in the metro area and nationally: 4.4 to 7.5 abortions per 1,000 women in the study, compared with 13.4 to 17 abortions per 1,000 women overall in the St. Louis region, Peipert calculated. That’s lower than the national rate, too, which is almost 20 abortions per 1,000 women.
In fact, if the program were expanded, one abortion could be prevented for every 79 to 137 women given a free contraceptive choice, Peipert’s team reported in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology.
Image: Birth control pills, via Shutterstock
Add a Comment
Wednesday, September 26th, 2012
Thirteen public high schools in New York City offer “morning-after” contraceptive pills to girls in a program that has not gotten a lot of attention. NBC News reports:
The program, called CATCH, or Connecting Adolescents To Comprehensive Healthcare, is aimed at reducing unplanned teen pregnancy. It began in January 2011, but wasn’t publicized until the New York Post reported it over the weekend.
“In any given every year there are about 7,000 pregnancies to girls ages 15 to 17 in New York City, about 90 percent of those are unintended,” said Deborah Kaplan, assistant commissioner at the city health department’s Bureau of Maternal, Infant and Reproductive Health. “We wanted to make sure young people who are sexually active have easy access to contraceptive services and general reproductive health services.”
Oral contraceptives, including the morning-after Plan B pill, have been available to students at most of the 40 schools that have school-based health centers for the last one to four years, depending on the school, Kaplan said. The centers, which serve about one-quarter of New York City’s public high school students, provide primary care health services and are run privately by separate institutions like hospitals.
For the first time, with the CATCH program, the Health Department is making the contraceptives available in schools without the private health centers. The program began in January 2011 in five schools, and is now in 13 schools. The schools were chosen because they are in neighborhoods with high teen pregnancy rates or with limited resources for young people to get contraception. City high schools have long provided condoms.
Image: Girl with nurse, via Shutterstock
Add a Comment
Wednesday, July 11th, 2012
A new study by researchers at Johns Hopkins University has found that worldwide maternal deaths could drop by at least a third if steps were taken to meet the contraception needs of women in developing countries. From The New York Times:
The study, published on Tuesday in The Lancet, a British science journal, comes ahead of a major family planning conference in London organized by the British government and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that is an attempt to refocus attention on the issue. It has faded from the international agenda in recent years, overshadowed by efforts to combat AIDS and other infectious diseases, as well as by ideological battles.
The proportion of international population assistance funds that went to family planning fell to just 6 percent in 2008, down from 55 percent in 1995, while spending on H.I.V./AIDS represented 74 percent of the total in 2008, up from just 9 percent in 1995, according to Rachel Nugent, a professor of global health at the University of Washington, who cited figures from the United Nations Population Fund.
But population growth has continued to surge, with the United Nations estimating last year that the world’s population, long expected to stabilize, will instead keep growing. Population experts warn that developing countries, particularly those in sub-Saharan Africa, where fertility continues to be high and shortages of food and water are worsening, will face deteriorating conditions if family sizes do not shrink.
Image: Young girl, via Shutterstock.
Add a Comment
Monday, March 19th, 2012
The new rule that mandates health insurance plans to cover contraceptive medication will apply to health plans offered by religious organizations, Obama administrations clarified late last week. The announcement clarified an earlier statement that an “accommodation” would be offered to religious groups who object to funding birth control medication on the basis of their faiths.
The New York Times reports that Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, said that the government would guarantee women access to birth control “while accommodating religious liberty interests:”
The new proposal escalates the election-year fight over the administration’s birth control policy.
President Obama had previously announced what he described as an “accommodation” for religiously affiliated organizations that buy commercial insurance but object, for religious reasons, to covering contraceptives and sterilization procedures. In these cases, the White House said, the insurer “will be required to provide contraception coverage to women free of charge.”
On Friday, the Department of Health and Human Services went a step further and said it would propose a similar requirement for group health plans sponsored by religious organizations that insure themselves.
Sebelius said that in lieu of the religious institutions paying for the contraceptives, pharmaceutical companies could offer substantial rebates to allow the faith-based groups to provide the medication without funding it themselves.
Image: Birth control pills, via Shutterstock.
Add a Comment
Friday, February 24th, 2012
Extensive research is needed to explore the question of whether hormone-based birth control is less effective in women who are overweight, a group of doctors said in a media conference call Thursday.
The Boston Globe’s Daily Dose blogger was on the call and reports on the three major sources of concern among researchers:
1. Implanon implant may not work as effectively. [Dr. Melissa] Gilliam, [board president of the Society of Family Planning], conducted a small study measuring how well Implanon — a three-year implant inserted beneath the skin of the arm — works in obese women; she found that blood levels of etonogestrel, released by the implant to prevent ovulation, were markedly lower in obese women compared to women who weren’t overweight.
“We don’t want to say this reflects clinical efficacy since the hormone levels were still high enough to prevent ovulation,” said Gilliam. “But this is the first study to look at Implanon in obese women and it gives us some indication that it behaves differently. We need more information on this from larger studies.”
2. Later hormone peak for pill. Other researchers examined the more commonly used oral contraceptives and found that obese women who take the pill, on average, don’t reach a prime hormone level for preventing ovulation until day 10 of their pill pack, compared to women at a healthy weight who reach this hormone level by day 5. Whether this increases an obese woman’s chances of becoming pregnant isn’t known, said Dr. Alison Edelman, an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Oregon Health & Science University who led the study.
“Some studies do show a slight reduction in contraceptive effectiveness among obese women,” Edelman said. “But it’s a little too early to say that they need to use a different method of birth control.” Obese women may, though, want to speak to their doctors about the research findings to see whether they should take a birth control pill continuously or whether they should switch to an implant or intrauterine device to avoid having the dip in hormone levels.
3. Avoiding weight gain from Depo Provera shot. Overweight women, in particular, are looking for a contraceptive method that won’t cause weight gain. And Depo Provera — a hormone shot given once every three months — has been known to cause significant weight gain in 1 in 4 women. The trouble is doctors don’t know how to predict which women will gain those 10 pounds or more.
Image: Woman holding pills, via Shutterstock.
Add a Comment