Emergency Contraception for Adolescents

Don't be shocked if the doctor starts discussing pregnancy and emergency contraception at your teen's next checkup. On Sept. 1, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released a policy statement supporting the availability of the "morning-after pill" for adolescents, and encouraging pediatricians to inform teen and young adult patients about these products at annual preventive healthcare visits. Adolescent birth rates in the United States are much higher than rates in other developed countries, according to the AAP, and emergency contraception has the potential to significantly reduce teen pregnancy and abortions.

The prescription medications, marketed as "Preven" and "Plan B," use hormones similar to those in birth control pills. They reduce the risk of pregnancy by 89 percent when taken within three days of unprotected intercourse, according to the AAP. They do not, however, end pregnancies that are already in progress.

- Christina Elston

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Christina Elston is the contributing health editor for United Parenting Publications.