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ALRANZ Commends Holmes Treatment

ALRANZ Commends Holmes For Approach to Adolescent Medical Confidentiality Issues

"ALRANZ strongly commends Paul Holmes for the mature, responsible, balanced and intelligent discussion of competent minors and medical confidentiality on Monday evening." Craig Young, ALRANZ Research Officer said today.

"In an ideal world, all young adolescents would have open communication with their parents. Indeed, Dr.Gill Greer referred to that fact. However, sadly, recent events indicate that there are severe problems with family violence and sexual abuse within many New Zealand families. Medical confidentiality has to be there for competent minors to protect those young adolescents."

"As the young women in that programme noted, they also have responsibilities to tell the doctor about family histories and medical conditions that enables the doctor to avoid prescription of unsafe contraceptives for their specific needs."

"However, teenage pregnancy is far more dangerous. In the United States, the March of Dimes organisation makes the following observations about the risks of teenage pregnancy. Teenagers have eating habits that mean they may not gain adequate weight, which will mean the birth of a low birthweight child. These infants are likely to have health problems that include lack of fully developed organs, respiratory problems, cranial bleeding, blindness or intestinal problems. March of Dimes estimates that they are twenty times as likely to die as infants born later."

"For the young woman herself, there is increased risk of premature labour, anaemia, high blood pressure, and the possibility of undiagnosed STDs such as chlamydia, or syphilis, which can kill both the mother and her newborn infant in this context if untreated. She may also find it difficult to maintain her education, or a job, and may lack parenting skills. There may also be a cycle of poverty that results from poorer health and educational difficulties of children born to very young women under seventeen."

Mr Young concluded: "The Family Planning Association, Childrens Commissioner representative, and the young women were right. We need to start talking about the risks of teenage pregnancy. We need comprehensive sexual education that encourages assertiveness and delays sexual activity until young women and men can handle it responsibly."

Contact: Craig Young Research Officer ALRANZ 06 3569099 ext 7750

Dr Margaret Sparrow President ALRANZ 04 4759886

ALRANZ PO Box 28008 Wellington

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