Colorado leads the nation in providing the most effective forms of birth control to low-income teenage women in Title X family planning clinics, according to a report released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
CDC’s Vital Signs report shows 25.8 percent of Colorado women ages 15-19 who used Title X services in 2013 chose long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs), which include intrauterine devices (IUDs) and hormonal implants. Though LARCs are the most effective form of birth control, only 7.1 percent of women nationally use them.
In Colorado, however, an initiative of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has provided more than 30,000 women long-acting reversible contraceptives at 68 Title X clinics across the state since 2009. During that time, the state’s teen birth rate dropped 40 percent, teenage abortions dropped 35 percent and the state averted approximately $79 million in Medicaid spending.
“The Colorado Family Planning Initiative has helped thousands of young women continue their education, pursue their professional goals and choose when they want to start a family,” said Dr. Larry Wolk, executive director and chief medical officer of the department. “I am optimistic the Legislature will continue to fund this initiative so we can provide the kind of family planning services that have made Colorado a leader in reducing unintended pregnancies.”
A private donor funded the initiative through 2013. The health department is asking the state Legislature for $5 million to continue it. The CDC report shows Colorado’s model of counseling teens, training health care providers and lowering cost barriers to long-acting reversible contraceptives is one of the most effective ways to reduce unintended pregnancy.
Seven of 10 teen pregnancies in Colorado are unintended. Research shows unintended pregnancies are associated with birth defects, low birth weight, elective abortions, maternal depression, reduced rates of breastfeeding and increased risk of physical violence during pregnancy. Children born to mothers who did not intend to have children are more likely to experience child abuse, poor health and educational challenges. Teen mothers are less likely to graduate from high school or earn as much as women who wait to have children.
IUDs and implants are the safest and most effective forms of birth control and are recommended by most women’s health organizations. According to the CDC, the failure rate with long-acting reversible contraceptives is less than 1 percent. The failure rate for birth control pills is 9 percent and condoms fail 18 percent of the time.
“Long-acting reversible contraception is safe for teens, easy to use and very effective,” said CDC Principal Deputy Director Ileana Arias. “We need to remove barriers and increase awareness, access and availability of IUDs and implants.”