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
Source: Efficacy of Infant Simulator Programmes to
Prevent Teenage Pregnancy: A School-based Cluster Randomised Controlled
Trial in Western Australia (2016), The Lancet