Abell Salutes: Pregnancy Prevention Program at Union Memorial

November 1997 / Salutes / Health and Human Services

Repeat pregnancies among adolescents with a child have been reduced…

Baltimore City may be on the way to losing an aspect of its reputation—but with the city’s blessing. Baltimore is known to have one of the highest rates of out-of-wedlock, teen age and young-adult pregnancy in the country, but a modest program (in terms of its numbers) at Union Memorial Hospital, designed to reduce the numbers, is showing results that encourage hope.

That hope came to fruition in the experience of 150 to 200 teenagers and young adults who have their babies delivered at Union Memorial Hospital in any given year. Of the 150 to 200, 130 receive regular follow up with family planning counseling by a health educator, during the course of which the professional provides education on choosing and using birth control techniques. The success or failure of the educator’s role can be judged by the success or failure she is having in helping her clients prevent unwanted pregnancies.

Among the 130-plus sexually active girls over a three year period, there was an expectation of at least 60 pregnancies based on experience documented in available data: a survey of a group of adolescent mothers in Baltimore found that 15 to 18 months after after they gave birth, 77% of girls were sexually active and 32% were not using birth control. Up to 19% of birth control users depended only on foam and condoms. At six months, 10% had conceived again; at one year 22% had conceived again; at 15 to 18 months, 46% had a subsequent pregnancy.

Against this background of experience and using conservative estimates, the program has prevented at least 60 unwanted pregnancies among the teens, and may have prevented as many as 90.

The cost per prevented pregnancy is between $1,800 and $2,700 each. This compares well with other programs.

The Abell Foundation salutes Union Memorial’s Pregnancy Prevention program, and recognizes the importance of the techniques it uses in this important effort.