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Life in Brief — Week of Jan. 19

‘16 and Pregnant’ cuts teen births, study finds

A new study concludes that the MTV show 16 and Pregnant reduced teenage births by nearly 6 percent in the year and a half after the show started airing, countering concerns that the popular show has glamorized teen motherhood.

Teen motherhood has plummeted over the last two decades, hitting a record low last year. Advocacy groups believe sex education and the economic downturn have helped bring down the numbers, but researchers had yet to examine whether pop culture was also steering teens away from parenthood.

By analyzing Google searches, Twitter and Nielsen ratings and comparing them to teen birth rates in different parts of the country, researchers from Wellesley College and the University of Maryland concluded that the hit show also had a powerful role in reducing teen births.

In a working paper for the National Bureau of Economic Research, they found that areas that had higher MTV viewership when 16 and Pregnant started airing had faster drops in teen births. The reality show also spurred more Google searches and tweets about birth control, hinting at what teens were thinking.

All in all, the study concluded that the show ultimately led to a 5.7 percent reduction in teen births, which accounted for nearly a third of the drop in teenage births between June 2009 and the end of 2010.

— Emily Alpert Reyes

Los Angeles Times

Hints from Heloise:

Cat litter eliminates 
freezer-odor problem

Marilyn K. in Nebraska writes: We had a freezer-odor disaster! We tried everything from baking soda, to wadding up newspapers and washing it out with bleach. Then a light bulb came on. What about cat litter? We changed the litter every day for about a week, and after that, every few days. The freezer eventually was cured using plain old clay cat litter!

Ursula in Lincoln Hills, Calif., writes: After being away and walking in dirty places, like airline bathrooms, etc., I wipe the bottom of my shoes with disinfectant wipes (not the bleach ones) before walking around on my home carpet. It assures me that I am not tracking in oodles of filth and germs.

— King Features

Special organizers make 
using coupons easier

If your new year’s resolutions include clipping coupons, make sure you organize them. If your coupons aren’t organized before you shop, you’ll waste time (and money) sifting through them at the store.

Coupon organizers range from checkbook-size to large three-ring binders. And their price varies as well, from just a couple dollars to more than $15.

If you use lots of coupons, opt for a ring binder with plastic-sheet inserts (the size used for baseball cards works well). Organize coupons first by category — meats, dairy, frozen foods, etc. — and then by product. This way, you can see the coupons. For example, group all your cereal coupons (by brand if you like) together. Look for coupon organizers at stores such as Target and Walmart and online at

— Susan Selasky

Detroit Free Press


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