Plan B 'advanced' prescriptions recommended for teens under 17


"I think it's a positive idea," said Shannon Dewey.

Twenty-year-olds like Dewey are young enough to still be seen by a pediatrician. But under a new American Academy of Pediatrics policy, doctors may soon start counseling patients like her -- and younger ones -- about giving them the morning after pill.

But the policy goes even further, suggesting doctors give patients under 17 an "advance prescription" for emergency contraception, like Plan B, so younger teens can use it if necessary without having to contact them first.

"Plan B is emergency contraception that is used within 24 to 120 hours after intercourse to prevent pregnancy," said Pasadena pediatrician Dr. John Mangoni. "Part of their physical, you would discuss, are they having sex? Many times they'll tell you, many times they won't," he said.

Seventeen-year-olds can get emergency contraception with an ID at any pharmacy, but teens under 17 need a prescription. Under the new guidelines, doctors can start talking to patients as young as 10 years old about emergency contraception.

"Why 10? It's like immunizations," said Mangoni. "Because you want to do things in advance."

Mangoni says since the U.S. continues to have a higher teen birth rate than other developed countries, this new practice could significantly reduce the number of unintended pregnancies. But he's concerned the morning after pill could be over utilized.

"We have to figure out what is best for the patient, and we have to make sure that we're just not handing out contraception," he said.

While not every parent wants their pediatrician to discuss sex with their young children, many adults agree educating and counseling kids about contraception can lead to more positive than negative results.

"I think I would be a little hesitant as a parent, but if they can explain some things that I might not be able to explain to my child then I would like for them to be well informed," said Garret Wright of Pasadena.

Mangoni says allowing children talk about sex with their doctors could make things easier for parents who have difficulties talking about sex with their children.

"It's hard to talk to your parents about these issues, but it's easier to talk to your pediatrician many times," Mangoni said.

Mangoni says he doesn't believe discussing sex with children will lead them to have more sex. He also says if parents want to initiate a discussion with their kids, start by talking about this new policy change and do it in a place where there aren't any cellphone distractions, like in the car.

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