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New study finds obese girls in Michigan less likely to use contraception

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

A new University of Michigan study finds teenage girls are less likely to use contraception if they are obese.  

Researchers from the U of M Health System surveyed 900 18- and 19-year-old Michigan women.  

The researchers found obese teens are less likely to use contraception than their normal weight peers.  Obese girls who do use contraception are less likely to use it consistently.

The report found no differences between obese teens and normal weight teens in other sexual behaviors, including number of partners, frequency of sex or length of relationships.

Tammy Chang is an assistant professor of family medicine at the U-M Medical School, and member of the U-M Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation. She’s the lead author of the report. 

She says the reason for the contraception use difference between obese and normal weight teens is unclear. 

But Chang says other studies have shown obese teenage girls have issues with low self-esteem.

“Therefore, obese adolescents may feel less comfortable asking clinicians for contraceptives or obtaining contraception from a pharmacy or retailer,” says Chang.

Chang says doctors should make an effort to discuss reproductive health with obese teenage girls.

One-quarter of all U.S. women become pregnantat least once by age 20.

Obese women who become pregnant have a higher risk for gestational diabetes, hypertensive disorders, blood clots, Cesarean-sections, stillbirths and birth-related injuries. Their infants are also more likely to be admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit. One-fifth of U.S. adolescents are obese.

The UMHS study appears in the Journal of Pediatrics.  

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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