UNM Teen Pregnancy Prevention Research Cut Short

ABHIJIT CHENDVANKAR / FLICKR VIA CREATIVE COMMONS

  •  Sarah Trujillo
  • July 19, 2017

New Mexico has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the nation, and now that the Trump Administration has slashed funding for teen pregnancy prevention projects, researchers here say it’s like the rug has been pulled out from under them.

The University of New Mexico is one of over 80 institutions across the country that saw their federal grants for teen pregnancy prevention programs cut short this week.

UNM researcher Jennifer Hettema says doctors often wing it when talking to teens about risky sexual behavior. Her $5 million, 5-year project was geared towards finding the most effective way for doctors to talk to Latino, Native American and low income teens in order to prevent teen pregnancies. Halting the research three years in, she says, before they’ve collected all their data or analyzed it for answers, offers no scientific or statistical benefit.

“I mean it’s just shockingly wasteful to invest this much money in building and starting a huge clinical trial and then stopping it,” Hettema explained.

Hettema says their project was the first to take a comprehensive approach by incorporating counseling techniques and allowing teens to talk openly about their sexual behavior.

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