Increased awareness helps curb teen pregnancy

| May 26, 2017 | 0 Comments

Kristi Hayashida
Tripler Army Medical Center
HONOLULU — According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the teen rate has steadily declined over the past 10 years, but it still remains a major public health issue.

Teen pregnancies leave lasting repercussions not only on the teen parents, but on society as a whole.

The CDC recommends more effort be put into preventing teen pregnancies by raising awareness of contraceptive options.

Prevention programs
Schools once taught the “abstinence only” policy, which stated that abstinence was the only truly effective way to prevent unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.

“Prevention programs that focus only on abstinence do not work for teenagers,” said Maj. John Campagna, the chief of the Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine Clinic at Tripler Army Medical Center. “They need to be informed and aware of the harsh reality of raising a baby and the negative effects of teenage pregnancy. They also need to learn of the other means to prevent pregnancy.”

Campagna said teenage parents are less likely to graduate from high school and/or college, which can lead to lower income jobs.

Teen pregnancies and parenthood are closely associated with social and economic issues. The societal cost of caring for teenage mothers and their children is an estimated $7 billion per year. Two-thirds of teen mothers rely on public assistance within the first three years of childbirth.

Creating a dialogue
“The best thing that a parent can do to prevent their teen from getting pregnant is to talk with them,” said Campagna. “This means discussing what sex is, how it can be prevented, and what their family expectations are. The more open the parents are with their teen, the less likely their teen will become pregnant.”

If teens do not feel comfortable talking to their parents openly about sex, they can reach out to another trusted adult, school counselor or health care providers.

Adolescents have the right to confidential health care, which includes receiving sexual health services, provided that the teen’s emotional and cognitive maturity allow for it. Campagna said that at age 14 a teenager can receive contraceptive management without parental consent.

Campagna believes teen pregnancy can be a significant stressor on any adolescent, including fathers. The CDC suggests that young men should attend a “male only” sex education class to help significantly reduce the rate of teen pregnancy.

The Adolescent and Young Adult Clinic at Tripler can offer resources and knowledge on adolescent sexual health for patients and their families. The clinic offers confidential counseling and discussion of all health issues that may affect adolescents, and offer all forms of contraception.

When adolescents are exposed to vital information about unplanned pregnancies, teenagers will be forced to analyze whether sex is worth the risk of forever changing their lives and those of their future children.

Contact TAMC
If you have any questions or concerns about teen pregnancy and prevention, call 433-4165.

TAMC Tip

Travel Safely

If you plan to travel, make sure to be proactive, prepared and protected. Take a few minutes to learn what you can do for a safe and healthy trip:

  • Are vaccinations required? If so, call your health provider to schedule an appointment.
  • Do you have enough medicine? If not, call your pharmacy to refill your prescriptions.
  • Do you have a travelers’ kit prepared? If not, make one. Include sunscreen, insect repellent, medicine and basic first-aid items.
  • Are you traveling pregnant? If so, find out what extra precautions you will need to take.
  • Are you traveling overseas with children? Know health risks and how to avoid them.
  • Are you going on a cruise? If so, check the inspection scores for specific ships before you book.
  • Are you driving while abroad? Lower your risk of being injured in a car crash while you’re on vacation.

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Category: Health

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