Concerns raised over teenage pregnancy ‘magic dolls’

Teenage pregnancy prevention programmes which use “magic dolls” to simulate the needs of a new baby do not work, according to a study in The Lancet. More than 1,000 teenage girls who took part in programmes in Western Australia were more likely to become pregnant than girls who did not take part, researchers found. The baby simulator cries when it needs to be fed, burped or changed. Similar programmes are used in schools in 89 countries, including the US. Girls enrolled in the Virtual Infant Parenting programme in more than 50 schools in Western Australia were taught about sexual health, contraception and the financial costs of having a baby.  The programme also included watching a video of teenage mothers talking about their experiences and caring for a lifelike model of a baby over the weekend. But when the girls were tracked up to the age of 20, 8% had given birth at least once and 9% had had an abortion. This compared to a figure of 4% giving birth among girls who did not take part in the baby simulator programme and 6% having an abortion.

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