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Methods to cut teenage pregnancies
By Liang Yu and Hu Yan (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-03-06 08:35

A hospital in Shanghai has announced the availability of several methods of emergency contraception to minimize teenage pregnancies in the city.

Experts, however, urge juveniles not be sexually promiscuous despite the easier access to contraception at affordable costs.

Among the offerings of Shanghai No 1 Maternity and Child Health Hospital are luteal phase contraception, menstrual induction contraception as well as emergency post-coital contraception.

"The methods take into account social reality and will, hopefully, be helpful to youngsters who inadvertently get pregnant," said Wu Xuezhe, a senior gynaecology specialist of the hospital.

Wu and her research team are reported to have developed the use of luteal phase contraception after more than 10 years' efforts but admits that the approach is hardly the latest in medical findings.

However, "more publicity (to such approaches) will hopefully lead the public to pay more attention to the issue," she said.

Experts have pointed out that the onset of pubescence among youngsters is 11 years for girls and 13 for boys.

Yet their sexual knowledge, either from their teachers, peers, parents or the Internet, does not seem to match their sexual maturity.

Local reports have revealed that there was a nearly 30 per cent increase from three years ago to last year in the number of teenage abortions at local hospitals, though details are not immediately available.

"We treat teenage mothers each week; and one was less than 12 years old," Cheng Linan, president of the Shanghai International Peace Maternity and Child Health Hospital, was quoted as saying.

The total number of teenage mothers treated by the hospital exceeds 50 every year, and the figure is increasing, according to Cheng.

"The availability of the new contraception methods is basically intended to solve the problem at an early stage, otherwise it will be quite dangerous for teenagers," said Wu, referring to the danger of abortion during late-stage pregnancy.

The contraceptives, effective within 72 hours of intercourse, cost 20 yuan to about 200 yuan (US$2.4-24).

"But they (the approaches at reasonable costs) are definitely not designed to encourage teenage promiscuity," noted Wu.

Xu Jieshuang, a specialist at Shanghai Family Planning Technical Institute, agrees. The organization operates the city's first free Teenage Caring Club, which provides medical or consultant services through a hotline for troubled juveniles.

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