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Los Angeles County encourages LARC use to decrease Zika cases

Almost half of births in LA County are unplanned. Educating providers to place long-acting reversible contraceptives can decrease neonatal Zika complications by preventing unplanned pregnancies.



Los Angeles County, California, has been identified as one of 7 areas in the nation with the highest risk of local Zika transmission by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), advise Adriana Ramos and colleagues from Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (DPH), Maternal, Child & Adolescent Health Programs.1 One factor for this classification is the county’s high birth rate. According to Ramos at el the CDC recommends that, before a Zika outbreak occurs, health departments in areas with Aedes species mosquitos increase access to and use of effective contraception.1 Long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs), including the intrauterine device (IUD) and the implant, are proven most effective methods.1

In a poster presented at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) Annual Clinical Meeting in San Diego, California, Ramos and colleagues summarized contraceptive use within LA County using data from the Los Angeles Mommy and Baby (LAMB) project, conducted by the Maternal, Child, and Adolescent Health (MCAH) Programs of the LA County DPH, which surveyed mothers who recently delivered a live baby about their preconception and perinatal experiences. In 2012, 6,893 mothers participated. In 2014, MCAH re-interviewed the 2012 LAMB respondents, excluding those with a subsequent pregnancy after the 2012 survey or who had not originally answered questions about family planning, leaving 3,175 respondents. Findings, weighted to the 2012 live-birth cohort, estimated the weighted population at 115,284 live births.1

The study defined contraception use by efficacy, identifying no contraception use, condoms, withdrawal, and the rhythm method as less effective; oral contraceptive pills and vaginal ring as moderately effective; and LARCs and sterilization as highly effective. Unintended births account for 47% of births in LAC and more than 59% of women report using less effective contraceptive methods.1

Results of the study

As a result of their study, MCAH researchers Adriana Ramos, Shin Chao, MD, MPH, and Diana E. Ramos, MD, MPH, conclude that educating providers to place LARC contraceptives and educating the public on the most effective contraceptive methods can decrease the neonatal Zika complication rates by preventing unplanned pregnancy. LAC is undertaking these activities to decrease the number of neonatal Zika cases.1

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