MONDAY, Nov. 26 (HealthDay News) -- Doctors should let their teenage patients know about emergency contraception, such as Plan B, and write them a prescription for it if they are sexually active, according to a new policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
The new guideline is an update to the 2005 policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the largest organization of pediatric doctors in the United States.
Since 2005, "the data are even more supportive of emergency contraception," said the policy statement's lead author, Dr. Cora Breuner, A professor of pediatrics and adolescent medicine at the University of Washington in Seattle.
"These methods are absolutely not an abortion," Breuner said. They prevent pregnancies by blocking fertilization.
The statement, published online Nov. 26 in the journal Pediatrics, emphasizes the importance of informing teens that emergency contraception is available if they have unprotected sex or if their protection fails, and that it is most effective if taken within one day of having unprotected sex.
Emergency contraception is available without a prescription for girls 17 and older and boys 18 and older, but younger teens need a prescription in most states. Having a prescription ready to go can make it more likely that teens will use emergency contraception, Breuner said.
The target patient group for this policy statement is women 15 to 25 years of age, but even some women in their 30s and 40s should know more about emergency contraception as a back-up option to prevent pregnancies, Breuner said.
Although teen birth rates have decreased since the 1990s, the United States still has one of the highest rates among developed countries. And more than three-quarters of teen pregnancies are unintended, according to background information in the study. About 34 out of every 1,000 wom
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