PHILADELPHIA (CBS) –– A new program at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia aims to reduce repeat teen pregnancies.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says nearly one in five teen births involve teenagers who are already mothers.
Children’s Hospital is using a March of Dimes grant of just under $30,000 to fund a pilot program that screens and counsels teen mothers at the time they bring their newborns in for care — asking them questions about their own mental health and contraceptive needs.
“It’s a lot of work to be a mother,” said Dr. Emily Gregory, a pediatrician at CHOP’s Karabots Pediatric Care Center in West Philadelphia. “And especially if you have other competing demands, you don’t necessarily get to all of the things you need to do to take care of yourself as well. So we just want to make that it’s easier for them by giving them care at a place that they already are.”
During baby checkups, teenage moms will receive medical concealing, including referrals for contraception.
“Often times women fail to get past their post-partum care and they don’t get regular self-care, but they do get their pediatric care,” said Dolores Smith of the March of Dimes. “So it’s a wonderful opportunity during that window to say, ‘Listen, your child’s health is important, your health is important to this child and subsequent pregnancies, so we can help you not get pregnant again if you don’t want to get pregnant.'”
In Philadelphia, 73 percent of teen pregnancies are unintended and 20 percent of teen moms have two children.
“If we can reduce that, we can improve this young woman’s opportunity to get her education and to be economically better off as an adult,” said Smith.
The program will use the electronic health records to remind clinicians to ask teen moms about their own health, in addition to their baby’s.
The March of Dimes says it hopes CHOP’s innovative program can be replicated across the country to improve the overall health of teenage mothers.