AMCHP’s New Initiative: Preconception Care and Adolescent Women
By Stacey Cunningham, Associate Director for Women’s and Infant Health, AMCHP
and Sharron Corle, Associate Director for Adolescent Health, AMCHP
There is increasing emphasis on preconception care in the maternal and child health community. What does this mean, however, for adolescent women – for whom we’ve been so actively trying to prevent conception? Furthermore, health habits initiated during adolescence can have a great impact on future health – and future pregnancy outcomes. Risk behaviors such as use of tobacco, alcohol and illicit drugs contribute potential threats to the health of young women. Risky sexual behaviors put teenagers at high risk for unintended pregnancy and HIV/STIs and their complications, which affect not only their current, but also their future, reproductive and sexual health. As the preconception care guidelines released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) call for screening for sexual behavior, substance use, emotional health, nutrition/physical activity, safety and injury prevention – “preconception care” for adolescent women is simply another way to look at comprehensive adolescent health.
To consider this important issue and support AMCHP’s lifespan approach to women’s health, AMCHP’s Women’s and Adolescent Health teams are collaborating on a two-year initiative that will explore the integration of preconception health into state-level adolescent health efforts.
As part of this initiative, AMCHP will work with a small practice collaborative that will consider how states can create, implement and evaluate preconception care efforts with adolescent women. The practice collaborative will consist of four demonstration sites, each composed of four team members that would include an Adolescent Health Coordinator, Maternal and Child Health Director, Family Planning or Title X representative and one other representative (i.e. WIC Coordinator or School-Based Health Coordinator). Demonstration sites will be selected through a Request for Proposal (RFP) process. Teams will be tasked with focusing on three of the 10 CDC Recommendations for Preconception Health - #1: Individual Responsibility Across the Lifespan, #2: Consumer Awareness, #4: Interventions for Identified Risks, and # 8: Public Health Programs and Strategies and Health Care - to determine how they will integrate preconception care into current adolescent health efforts. Over the next several months AMCHP will be convening a small advisory group to provide assistance with developing the RFP and fine tuning the project plan. Look for more information on this exciting new initiative in the coming months!
For information about this project or AMCHP’s Women’s or Adolescent Health work, please contact the following AMCHP staff: Stacey Cunningham and Sharron Corle.