England has the highest percentage of sexually experienced 15-year-olds in Europe and Canada, a 24-nation survey shows.
Emmanuelle Godeau, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Toulouse, France, and colleagues asked some 34,000 15-year-olds about their sexual activities as part of a youth health survey. They collected the data in 2002 from students in 23 European countries and Canada.
Generally speaking, 15-year-olds from Western Europe were more likely to report sexual intercourse than those in Eastern Europe. When they did, they also were more likely to report use of effective birth control - either oral contraceptives or condoms.
In an editorial accompanying the study, John Santelli, M.D., MPH, of New York's Columbia University notes that surveys of U.S. teens show they are less likely than Western European teens to use effective methods of birth control.
Santelli and colleagues suggest that normalization of teen sexual behavior - coupled with an emphasis on personal responsibility - is linked to more use of birth control and lower pregnancy rates in teens.
The Godeau study and the Santelli editorial appear in the January issue of Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine.
By Daniel DeNoon
Reviewed by Louise Chang
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