CLEVELAND - The United States continues to see substantially high teen birth rates compared to other developed countries.
So, the American Academy of Pediatrics is recommending teenagers have access to emergency contraception to prevent unwanted pregnancy.
Dr. Deb Lonzer did not help develop the policy, but says she agrees with it, and is a pediatrician at Cleveland Clinic Children's Hospital.
"We should be prescribing it so they have it ready in case they need it, we should be educating families so they know it's available, and we should be working with insurance companies so they're more likely to cover the cost of the morning after pill," said Dr. Lonzer.
In a policy statement, the AAP says, adolescents are more likely to use emergency contraception if it's prescribed in advance.
The AAP also recommends pediatricians play a role by counseling and providing prescriptions for teens in need of emergency contraception. The academy is also asking pediatricians to advocate for better insurance coverage.
"We hear concerns from parents all of the time saying, if you give my child birth control pills or the morning after pill, it means you're telling him or her ‘Go out and have sex.' And that's not what we're doing. That's akin to saying ‘If we put a seatbelt in a car you will crash into a wall,'" said Dr. Lonzer.
When used within 120 hours of having unprotected sex, some regimens of emergency contraception, such as Plan B or Next Choice, are the only contraceptive methods to prevent unwanted pregnancy.
Dr. Lonzer believes the AAP is taking a proactive approach to curbing unwanted teenage pregnancies in the U.S.
"Kids are smart. Some of them are going to have sex and we want those who do have sex to be safe and to not get pregnant. And the ones who aren't going to have sex they're not going to want or need the morning after pill and they are not going to use it," said Dr. Lonzer.
To learn more about the guidelines, go to www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/Pages/AAP-Recommends-Emergency-Contraception-Be-Available-to-Teens.aspx .
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