HealthDay News — A self-administered preconception counseling program for teenage girls with diabetes is associated with greater knowledge and a willingness to discuss reproductive health with health care providers and may reduce sexual activity, study findings suggest.
Denise Charron-Prochownik, PhD, from the University of Pittsburgh, and colleagues randomly assigned 109 girls aged 13 to 19 years who had type 1 or 2 diabetes to a standard care control group or to the READY-Girls (Reproductive-health Education and Awareness of Diabetes in Youth for Girls) preconception counseling program. The family planning program was administered over three clinic visits. Study findings were published online in Diabetes Care.
At baseline, 20% of girls were sexually active, and half of these had at least one episode of unprotected sex.
Over the 12-month follow-up, the READY-Girls group retained significantly more knowledge about preconception counseling (P=0.0005), the researchers found. They also had stronger intentions to discuss preconception counseling with healthcare providers (P=0.0254) and obtain preconception counseling when planning a pregnancy (P=0.0180).
In addition, the READY-Girls group tended to have lower rates of sexual activity over time, including less sexual debut and greater abstinence, although these did not reach statistical significance. There were no pregnancies throughout the study.
“READY-Girls appeared to have long-term sustaining effects on preconception counseling knowledge, beliefs and intentions to initiate discussion with health care providers that could improve reproductive health behaviors and outcomes,” the researchers concluded.