Problems relating to human reproduction are among the critical issues of our time, and it is appropriate that pediatricians contribute to the solution of these problems. The changing dimensions of comprehensive pediatric care, more specifically the significant numbers of pregnancies being reported in young persons, support this position. For example, national statistics show that 44% of all pregnancies occur in persons under 20, and one out of four mothers on Aid to Families with Dependent Children in New York is pregnant before 16.
At least four roles can be identified for the pediatrician:
1. Genetic counseling: the pediatrician has already become proficient in giving knowledge to parents of the incidence of inborn errors of metabolism, chromosomal abnormalities, and other problems associated with genetic inheritance patterns.
2. Sex education: he often provides sex education to individual patients, families, and parents, in addition to teaching groups in his own practice and in schools, churches, or youth organizations.
3. Family planning and pregnancy counseling: he may provide assistance in these areas in behalf of the parents or adolescents. This assistance may involve a wide range of clinical advice and treatment, including the concept of spacing (rhythm method), contraceptive devices, or oral medication, whatever is considered most suitable for the individual. All alternatives for dealing with an unwanted pregnancy should be seriously discussed with the teenage girl and the other persons involved, including the parents if feasible. The pediatrician is in a unique position by the nature of his close association and relationship with the adolescent patient to provide this important personal service.
- Copyright © 1972 by the American Academy of Pediatrics