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Give Teens Access to Emergency Contraception, Pediatricians Say
Date:11/26/2012

en between 15 and 19 years old gave birth in 2010.

"People say that if you make this available that kids will have more sex and less protected sex, and that is not true," Breuner said. "Seven studies showed that is not true."

Roughly 42 percent of 15- to 19-year-olds report having had sex, and 10 percent of them say they were forced into it, the statement noted.

Breuner and her colleagues reviewed the safety and effectiveness of three emergency contraception methods: Plan B or Next Choice (levonorgestrel) and ella (ulipristal acetate), which affect the hormone progesterone, and combination oral contraceptives. Ella is the newest method, approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2010.

Plan B users are about half as likely to experience nausea and vomiting as those taking ella, but the rates of side effects are fairly low for both.

Emergency contraception is most effective in the first 24 hours after unprotected sex, but can reduce the risk of pregnancy for up to 120 hours (five days). One study found that, among women taking Plan B within 72 hours of unprotected sex, 1.1 percent became pregnant.

Although emergency contraception does not generally interfere with established pregnancies, ella can cause miscarriage in the first trimester. As a result, women must have a negative pregnancy test and a prescription to receive ella, making it a less ideal choice than Plan B, Breuner said.

The third method, combination oral contraceptives, is less popular because it involves estrogen along with progestin and is associated with higher rates of minor side effects.

Many pediatricians do not know enough about how emergency contraception works to discuss it with their patients, Breuner said. Some doctors won't prescribe it because of biases but they should refer patients to someone who will, she added.

Dr. Jennifer Reed, associate professor of pediatrics at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, said many do
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