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Struggling Colorado birth control program worked even better than thought, says health department

October 21, 2015 Updated: October 22, 2015 at 9:10 am
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photo - Intrauterine devices - known as IUDs - can prevent more than 99 percent of pregnancies within the first year of being implanted in the uterus.
Intrauterine devices - known as IUDs - can prevent more than 99 percent of pregnancies within the first year of being implanted in the uterus. 

A program offering birth control to low-income teens and young women worked even better than previously thought, Colorado's health department announced Wednesday.

The initiative, which provided long-acting reversible contraceptives at little or no cost, dropped the state's teen birth and abortion rates by 48 percent from 2009 to 2014, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment found.

The intrauterine devices - known as IUDs - administered by the initiative can prevent more than 99 percent of pregnancies within the first year of being implanted in the uterus.

They can last far longer than that, however, and should not affect fertility once removed, according to WebMD.

Previous data from the program's first four years found teen births had dropped 40 percent from 2009 through 2013, while abortions declined 35 percent, the department said.

The new data comes as the program remains on life support.

A five-year, $25 million grant from the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation ended in June, and legislation to continue funding the program using $5 million from state coffers failed in the Republican-held Senate.

Several Colorado foundations have since offered $2.2 million in bridge funding through June 30, 2016, though the program's future remains uncertain. The health department said Wednesday it is seeking more sustainable funding.

The stakes are high, advocates say.

Unintended pregnancies are more likely to result in children having poorer health while being at higher risk for child abuse, according to the health department.

The initiative also has been credited with controlling costs associated with child birth - saving Medicaid an estimated $79 million from 2010 through 2012, the health department said.

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