Columbus, OH,
14:52 PM

Columbus Dispatch: Keeping teen moms from ‘turnaround’ pregnancies

OhioHealth Newsroom TOPP Program - Logan

COLUMBUS, Ohio – OhioHealth announced today the results of a five-year study involving 600 girls and young women, aimed at lowering the rate at which teens have babies.

The federally funded program, called Teen Options to Prevent Pregnancy (TOPP), has seen statistically significant results in reducing rapid repeat teen pregnancy, which is when a teenage mother becomes pregnant within 18 months of a previous birth.

The research showed that 21.4% of women who did participate in the TOPP program had a rapid repeat pregnancy. Nearly double that number, 39.2% of those who did not participate, had a rapid repeat pregnancy.

“In the last five years, we’ve seen a dramatic decrease in repeat teen pregnancies,” said Robyn Lutz, RN, BSN, OhioHealth Project Director and Clinical Manager of TOPP. “By discussing the importance of birth spacing, birth control methods, and helping teen mothers plan to achieve their goals through the use of motivational interviewing, we’ve seen a decrease in rapid repeat teenage pregnancies by 50%. What is really exciting is seeing how positively our participants responded to the program.”

OhioHealth received a $2.8 million, five-year federal grant from a bureau of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to fund the TOPP program.

From 2010-2015, approximately 600 girls and young women between the ages of 10 and 19 were recruited from seven OhioHealth women’s clinics and five OhioHealth hospitals. Half of them were in a control group and the other half were in the intervention which included:

  • Access to a TOPP social worker to screen for risk factors, such as domestic violence or depression, who would provide services and resource referrals as needed.
  • Telephone and home-based, one-on-one motivational interviewing sessions with a trained nurse educator. Motivational interviewing is a non-confrontational, respectful method for communicating about change and engaging in healthier behavior.
  • Access to contraception at clinics or hospitals

The goals of the study were to see if this intervention increased long acting, reversible birth control (LARC) use and if there was a reduction in rapid repeat teen pregnancy.

“The American College of Gynecologists suggests using LARCs to prevent pregnancy,” said Ngozi Osuagwu, MD, OhioHealth OB/GYN and principal investigator for the TOPP study. “The TOPP program makes accessing LARCs convenient for participants by providing them with a physician to provide this service and, if needed, transportation to and from the clinic via the program’s van.”

“All of the girls have wonderful goals, but many of them do not have a support system,” continues Dr. Osuagwu. “Our job is to encourage them and let them know they can do it.”

Next Steps in Reducing Infant Mortality

OhioHealth has received an additional year of funding beyond this wave of research from October 2015 – October 2016. The funds are being used for a new pilot program called “Supporting Healthy Adolescent Reproductive Planning” (SHARP). This program will provide LARCs in the immediate postpartum period for teens who have just delivered.

OhioHealth is a member of Ohio Better Birth Outcomes (OBBO), which has the mission to reduce the infant mortality rate in Franklin County by improving the delivery of health services for low-income women and their families, using quality improvement. One of OBBO’s main initiatives is promoting healthy birth spacing.

"There’s a perfect confluence between the TOPP and SHARP programs and OBBO in addressing infant mortality rates in Franklin County,” said Orelle Jackson, OhioHealth System Director of Community Health and Wellness. “Greater Columbus has come together to address Infant Mortality through a city-wide partnership, CelebrateOne. Our shared goal is to assure that all babies survive and thrive past their first birthday. Programs like TOPP, SHARP and the work of OBBO will help this important cause.”

Reporter Emily Tate from The Columbus Dispatch recently profiled one TOPP participant.  You can read her story by clicking on the image of their front page.