A study by Sally Brinkman and colleagues presents the first randomised controlled trial assessing the effectiveness of infant simulator programmes on teenage pregnancy in Australia.
The Virtual Infant Parenting (VIP) programme uses dolls that mimic the need of a baby in terms of feeding and diaper changing through crying, and are meant to show the challenges of looking after a real baby. The infant simulators were given to 1,567 girls aged 13 to 15 years old in the intervention group (28 schools), while 1,267 girls of the same age in the control group (29 schools) received the standard health education curriculum. Participants were followed until they were age 20 via data linkage to medical records.
The study showed that the infant simulator programme did not reduce the risk of pregnancy in teenage girls. Compared with girls in the control group, a higher proportion of girls in the intervention group recorded at least one birth: 97 (8%) of 1,267 girls in the intervention group vs. 67 (4%) of 1,567 girls in the control group. After adjusting for potential confounders, girls in the intervention group actually had a higher overall pregnancy risk than those in the control group (relative risk 1.36).
Source: Efficacy of Infant Simulator Programmes to Prevent Teenage Pregnancy: A School-based Cluster Randomised Controlled Trial in Western Australia (2016), The Lancet