1. Zolot, Joan PA


Study shows girls who took simulators home had higher subsequent pregnancy rates.


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An infant simulator program designed to show teenagers firsthand the demands and responsibilities of caring for a baby, and thereby deter subsequent pregnancies, was actually associated with increased rates of pregnancy in a recent study.

Figure. Teenage girl... - Click to enlarge in new window Teenage girls practice the handling of a newborn baby with a baby simulation doll. Photo by Torsten Silz / Staff / Getty Images.

Infant simulators are lifelike robotic babies that cry at random intervals 24 hours a day and must be fed, changed, soothed, and put to sleep. Despite little evidence of effectiveness, these expensive simulators are widely used in 89 countries to encourage teens to take precautions to avoid pregnancy.


Researchers in Australia undertook a randomized controlled study to determine if young teens who experienced caring for simulator babies were less likely to become pregnant during their teenage years than those who hadn't.


The study, administered in schools in Perth, Australia, centered on 13-to-15-year-old girls enrolled over a three-year period. In half of the schools, school nurses ran a six-day educational curriculum that included infant simulators to be cared for by the students from Friday afternoon through Monday morning. In the other schools, which formed the control group, students received only the standard curriculum. Information on pregnancies was obtained until the students turned 20.


Of the 1,267 girls who received the baby simulator, 210 (17%) had one or more pregnancies by the age of 20. By contrast, of the 1,567 girls in the control group, only 168 (11%) had a pregnancy by age 20. The authors cite another study suggesting that the extra attention received by girls caring for simulator babies might have made the idea of having their own babies more appealing. The authors conclude that infant simulators don't appear to be effective in deterring teenage pregnancy.-Joan Zolot, PA




Brinkman SA, et al. Lancet 2016 Aug 25 [Epub ahead of print].