(HealthDay News) – A self-administered preconception counseling program on family planning 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, according to a study published online Oct. 15 in Diabetes Care.

Denise Charron-Prochownik, PhD, from the University of Pittsburgh, and colleagues randomly assigned 109 adolescent girls (13–19 years old) with 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 on family planning over three clinic visits.

The researchers found that 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; they also had stronger intentions to discuss preconception counseling with health care providers and obtain preconception counseling when planning a pregnancy. In addition, this 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. The authors reported that 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,” Charron-Prochownik and colleagues conclude.

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