Policy & Practice


Teen Communication With Parents

Most adolescent girls who have been to publicly funded family planning clinics report having had conversations with their parents about sex. Nearly 42% of the girls said they had talked a “great deal” with their parents about how to say no to sex, according to a survey conducted by researchers at the Guttmacher Institute. But about half of the girls surveyed said they did not talk with their parents at all about how to use condoms. The researchers analyzed questionnaires given to more than 1,500 adolescent girls who obtained services at 79 publicly funded family planning clinics across the United States. The girls were asked about communication with parents about sexual health issues, parent-child connectedness, parental attitudes toward sex and contraception, and parental knowledge of the clinic visit.

Umbilical Cord Stem Cell Bill

President Bush last month signed into law a bill that would provide for the collection and maintenance of human cord blood stem cells for the treatment of patients and use in research. The Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Act of 2005 (H.R. 2520) directs the secretary of Health and Human Services to enter into one-time contracts with cord blood banks to assist in the collection and maintenance of 150,000 new units of cord blood. This cord blood would be made available for transplantation through the C.W. Bill Young Cell Transplantation Program. This new program is the successor to the National Bone Marrow Donor Registry and would be charged with increasing the number of transplants for suitably matched recipients from biologically unrelated donors of bone marrow and cord blood. Rep. Mike Castle (R-Del.) and Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) praised the legislation but said it does not serve as a replacement for their proposal to expand government funding of embryonic stem cell research. Rep. Castle and Rep. DeGette are continuing to push for Senate passage of H.R. 810, the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2005, which passed in the House last May.

Breast Implant Investigation

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) have asked the Food and Drug Administration to investigate claims of safety problems with the Mentor silicone breast implants. A former employee of the company has alleged publicly that there is a design flaw in the implants that has led to a higher rupture rate, which was not accurately reported to the FDA. In addition, the former employee has alleged that Mentor's implants used in surgery leak more than the ones that were used in demonstrations to physicians and patients. But officials at Mentor say the allegations are false and that the former employee has been indicted for stealing breast implants from the company and trying to sell them on eBay. Last summer, Mentor and another company received “approvable” letters from the FDA; however, silicone breast implants will not be available until the FDA sets conditional requirements for the manufacturers.

Teen Health Curriculum

The Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health have launched a nationwide educational project aimed at teaching physicians more about teens and sexual health. The Adolescent Reproductive Health Education Project is a curriculum that offers modules on adolescent-friendly health services, adolescent reproductive health data, the physician as advocate for adolescent reproductive health, cultural competency, contraception, male adolescent reproductive health, pregnancy counseling, sexuality education, and minors' legal access to confidential health services. The program was developed from a pilot program in Georgia that provided information to physicians, educators, parents, and teens. The curriculum is available free from the Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health by calling 646-366-1890.

Addressing Underage Drinking

The Century Council, a not-for-profit organization funded by leading distilled spirits manufacturers, has launched a public awareness campaign aimed at improving communication between mothers and daughters about underage drinking. “Girl Talk: Choices and Consequences of Underage Drinking” was designed to help mothers to start conversations about alcohol use. The program comes on the heels of a Century Council survey that showed mothers significantly underestimate their daughters' experience with alcohol. For example, the survey found that 30% of 16− to 18-year-old girls reported drinking with friends but only 9% of their mothers thought their daughters were drinking. The program was developed in partnership with the Society for Women's Health Research and the Montgomery County Maryland Alcohol Beverage Control Board. More information on the program is available at

Next Article: