The more than half-million U.S. adolescents who become pregnant each year need nonjudgmental, comprehensive and developmentally appropriate counseling to help sort through life-changing and emotionally sensitive decisions, according to an updated American Academy of Pediatrics policy statement, "Options Counseling for the Pregnant Adolescent Patient," in the September 2017 Pediatrics.
Counseling should cover all legal options that surround continuing or terminating the pregnancy, support in making informed decisions, and referral to appropriate resources and services that's respectful of the patient's personal, family, and spiritual beliefs and cultural practices.
The policy statement, published online Aug. 21, states pediatricians who choose not to counsel patients comprehensively should refer patients to other capable and willing health providers.
An accompanying clinical report, "Diagnosis of Pregnancy and Providing Options Counseling for the Adolescent Patient," says a majority of adolescents and teens who become pregnant decide to continue their pregnancies.
It highlights the importance of helping teens secure early and adequate prenatal care, identifying family and social support systems for these patients, as well as counseling about options such as kinship care and adoption.