September 2010 Archives
Sep 30 2010New and Improved Birth Control?
A recent article from NPR highlights a new birth control pill that was developed by Bayer Healthcare and just received FDA approval (it's called Beyaz). The new pill is part of Bayer's strategy to be thinking "beyond birth control". Yet it is essentially the same as Yaz (another Bayer product), with folic acid added. Folic acid is a well-known B-vitamin that our body uses to make new cells. While folic acid is important for everyone (and as a result many cereals are fortified with it), it is particularly important for pregnant women. In fact, folic acid has been found to reduce major birth defects of the brain and spinal cord by between 50% and 70%. The catch is that folic acid is most important at the very beginning of pregnancy, often before it is even possible for a woman to determine whether or not she is pregnant. Given that about half of all pregnancies are unintended, the U.S. Preventive Task Force recommends that all women of childbearing age who are capable of getting pregnant should consume folic acid every day either through food or a vitamin.
So, Bayer has developed a birth control pill that includes folic acid so that if a woman accidentally becomes pregnant while on the pill, at least she's been taking her folic acid. Does that seem counter-intuitive to anyone else? It certainly doesn't seem to be dramatically pushing the boundaries of birth control technology, considering that the primary benefit of the new pill is attached to an unintended (and most likely undesired) outcome. What about developing birth control methods that are easier to remember, have fewer negative side effects, or have more positive side effects? To me, this new product doesn't go "beyond birth control", but instead sends the message of "if you use this product and it fails, at least you were taking folic acid"--which is not very reassuring. And what about people who get pregnant when they're using the pill because they forget to take their pill? The folic acid supplement doesn't seem very helpful for them if they're not taking it in the first place.
Sep 28 2010Communities of Color Bill Is Gaining Ground
The National Campaign's Latino Initiative and Public Policy departments have made headway with advocating for the Communities of Color (CoC) Teenage Pregnancy Prevention Act (PDF), H.R. 5033. The CoC bill is an important step in making progress in communities of color that suffer disproportionately from the incidence of teen pregnancy. It is still the case that 50% of African American teen girls and 52% of Latina teens become pregnant before the age of 20. The bill would invest in: demonstration grants focused on teen pregnancy prevention among racial or ethnic minority communities; multimedia campaigns to increase public awareness in such communities; and research to expand knowledge and improve data collection on issues including the factors behind disproportionately high rates in these communities and effective interventions to address this problem. It also focuses on healthy relationships.
We're only as good as our partnering organizations, with whom we have collaborated to secure the necessary co-sponsors for this bill. The CoC bill went from having only one co-sponsor in June 2010 to 38 co-sponsors in September 2010. We could not have reached this number without the Hill visits made to Members of Congress by our very own Latino Initiative Advisory Group (LIAG) in June, nor without the more than 120 visits on Capitol Hill during the first week of Hispanic Heritage Month by our long-term partner Hispanas Organized for Political Equality (HOPE) -- who played a key role in the introduction of the first version of this bill -- and our newest partner on this issue, the National Hispana Leadership Institute (NHLI).
Thanks to these Capitol Hill visits and advocacy, we are much closer to helping Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard reach her goal of garnering 100 co-sponsors for the Communities of Color Teenage Pregnancy Prevention Act, including the support of Congressman Henry Waxman, Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction for this bill.
Sep 24 2010Men's Health Has Chosen a Winner. Congrats, Austin?
Most people are surprised to learn how small of a shop the Campaign is. Little known fact: our team is not that big. And since this merry band can't be everywhere all the time, a few years back we decided to target some of our efforts to focus on the states who need our attention most. We chose these target states based on places with high teen pregnancy and birth rates, big teen populations, high rates of poverty and drop-out, and more. This list includes the great state of Texas, where Campaigners spend a lot of time trying to make a difference on the high rates of teen and unplanned pregnancies and births.
Enter Men's Health. In what is probably the least helpful statistical exercise of all time -- or most creative, depending on how you look at it -- the glossy men's mag set out to identify the country's "most sex-happy" cities (and presumably get dudes to move to them?). And the winner is...Austin, TX.
Here's how they came up with the list: basically, if you roll up a city's birth rates, STI rates, condom sales, and a few other nookie-denoting indicators, you get a grade of sorts to determine how sexually active its residents are, which you can compare to other cities.
I know, I know. Your inner-data nerd is screaming in agony, as is mine. This analysis presumes that the only people having sex are those that are getting pregnant and having babies, or the ones who are getting STIs. In the magazine's defense, they do throw in condom sales to account for those who are protecting themselves from those outcomes, but we all know not everybody who buys condoms is using 'em. Plus -- thank goodness -- there are a whole host of other ways to prevent pregnancy that don't get any love in this "study."
Interestingly, Texas dominates the top ten -- a state with one of the highest overall birth rates in the country. New England states, which in general have low birth rates, are well-represented at the bottom of the list -- let's call them "contraception-happy."
Men's Health may have set out to ID where dudes are getting busy, but perhaps they did a better job of figuring out who the Campaign's next target states should be?
Sep 23 2010It's Not Too Late (But It Will Be Soon!)
Show off your art skills by entering the Stay Teen Pregnancy Prevention PSA contest! But time is running out, so send us your art now--the contest ends September 30th. Oh, and spread the word! Winners will receive a $250 gift card to spend however they choose. Find out more on stayteen.org.
Sep 23 2010My Paper Boyfriend
The National Campaign and The Dibble Institute are pleased to announce the launch of My Paper Boyfriend, a new game for teen girls about relationships. After customizing the ideal boyfriend the user will encounter challenging scenarios, and their selections will determine how healthy the relationship is. Tell the teens in your life to test their relationship smarts by playing My Paper Boyfriend at www.StayTeen.org.
Funding for this project was provided by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Grant Number: 90-FE-0024. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families.