Preventing unplanned pregnancy and improving preparation for parenthood for care-experienced young people

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Reports on the findings of a research review to examine the reasons why care-experienced children and young people are at heightened risk of early and often unplanned transition to parenthood and to identify promising interventions that may deliver better outcomes. The review included literature published from 2000 to 2014 and included evidence from intervention studies developed specifically for looked after children and young people or care leavers related to avoidance of unplanned pregnancy or improving the experience of early parenting. The report provides an overview of the literature under the following key themes: perceived pathways to pregnancy, experiences of sexual health and relationships education, sex and experiences of pregnancy and parenthood. It also provides a critical appraisal of the small number of intervention studies identified and considers the potential transferability of the interventions to health, social care and education system in England. Interventions included curriculum-based studies, peer mentoring, interventions focused on residential services, and a nurse-led promtion model. The review found that non-targeted methods to prevent unplanned pregnancy were not effective for care experienced young people or care leavers due to: increased vulnerability due to pre-care experiences (such as abuse or neglect) contributing to a higher likelihood of mental health problems; increased chances of missing out on effective mainstream sex and relationship education due to placement moves; the absence of a supportive adult in their lives; and being more likely to choose to continue with an unplanned pregnancy due to a desire for a loving attachment in their lives. The review concludes by highlighting some of the strengths of the interventions and suggestions to improve the evidence-base. (Edited publisher abstract)

Subject terms:
care leavers, looked after children, pregnancy, teenage parents, intervention, parenting, sex education, prevention;
Content type:
research review
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