The American Academy of Pediatrics recommended today that doctors give girls younger than 17 advance prescriptions for emergency contraception, Reuters reported.
"Adolescents are more likely to use emergency contraception if it has been prescribed in advance of need," the academy's Committee on Adolescence said in a statement published online in the journal Pediatrics, CBS News reported.
In December 2011, the Food and Drug Administration approved over-the-counter sales of so-called morning-after pills like Plan B with no age limits, according to Reuters. But Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius changed the ruling to require that girls younger than 17 have a prescription to obtain the medication.
Emergency contraception works best if used in the first 24 hours after unprotected sex, missed birth control pills or condom breakage, though it can be used up to 120 hours after unprotected sex, CBS News reported.
According to Reuters:
A 2010 analysis of seven randomized studies of emergency contraception found that having a morning-after prescription in hand did not increase teens' sexual activity or decrease use of standard contraceptives but did increase use of the pill and shorten the time before a teenager used it after sex.
"It's just common sense that requiring a prescription is a barrier," said Bill Alpert, chief program officer of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, told Reuters. "If an august and respected medical group like AAP is suggesting providing emergency contraception to minors is OK, that is a big deal."
Last week, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists said it supports making birth control pills available to all without a prescription, CBS News reported.