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Cost-Effective Program Helps Prevent Repeat Teen Births

Computer-assisted intervention benefits high-risk, low-income girls, study finds

MONDAY, April 5 (HealthDay News) -- A home-based, computer-assisted intervention to prevent repeated births among teen girls is cost-effective, U.S. researchers report.

A previous study found that use of the intervention led to a 45 percent reduction in repeated births within two years among high-risk, low-income, predominately black teen mothers.

This new study, published in the April issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, included 235 pregnant girls, aged 18 or younger, at 24 weeks or more of gestation. They were randomly assigned to either usual care or a home-based computer-assisted motivational intervention (CAMI), in which counselors used laptop computers and customized software to guide the girls through a motivational interviewing process designed to change behavior.

After two years, the teens who received CAMI were much less likely to have another child than teens in the usual-care group. The average cost for CAMI per teen was $2,064. The estimated cost-effectiveness ratio per prevented repeat birth -- the cost divided by the difference in the number of repeated births among girls who received CAMI and those in the control group -- was $21,895 before and $17,388 after the researchers adjusted for related factors.

"Only a handful of experimentally evaluated teenage pregnancy-prevention interventions have been subject to examination of costs and benefits. Our findings suggest that CAMI is at least as cost-effective as these programs and warrants replication in larger samples for consideration in that group," wrote Dr. Beth Barnet, of the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, and colleagues.

"Expenditures per teenage mother per year are estimated at $4,080 nationally [for teenagers 17 years old and younger] and $5,150 in Maryland. Findings from this study provide evidence for the value of investing in evidence-based interventions, particularly for young people who are most vulnerable," the study authors added.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about preventing teen pregnancies.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: JAMA/Archives journals, news release, April 5, 2010

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