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Latest data shows decline in young people under-18 getting pregnant

Alison Hadley

Tue 25th February, 2014

Data released today (Tuesday 25 February) by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show further declines in the rates of under-18 conceptions in England.

In 2012, 27.7/1000 young women under-18 fell pregnant, a fall of 9.8 per cent from 2011, bringing the total reduction in under-18 conception rates to 40.6 per cent since 1998*.

Under-18 conceptions are now at the lowest level since 1969 when records began.

Alison Hadley, Director of the Teenage Pregnancy Knowledge Exchange, at the University of Bedfordshire, welcomed the news but said there was no room for complacency.

Alison commented: “There has been a significant reduction in the under-18 pregnancy rate due to a concerted effort in local areas over the past decade. However, young people in England are still more likely to fall pregnant than their peers in other Western European countries."

Research shows the outcomes for young mothers and their children are disproportionately poor, with a 44 per cent higher risk of infant mortality and higher rates of post-natal depression and child poverty. Most under-18 conceptions are unplanned, with around 50 per cent ending in abortion.

“It is absolutely essential that the focus on teenage pregnancy continues,” said Alison. “The challenge is for local authorities to sustain progress at a time of reduced resources and it is critical we use the evidence and lessons learned from the previous Teenage Pregnancy Strategy to drive the work forward.

“We are also seeing differing levels of progress around the country, with some areas such as Hull and Lambeth reducing their rates by over 50 per cent while others lag behind.”

Alison added: “The big reductions that have been achieved show that high rates of teenage pregnancy are not inevitable, even in deprived areas.

“We know from the evidence that if young people are given choices through good quality sex and relationships education, easy access to youth-friendly contraceptive clinics and targeted one to one support, increasing numbers do delay parenthood.

“For those who choose to become young parents, evidence shows the critical importance of having coordinated and supportive services to help young parents gain confidence and continue their education and training.”

The Teenage Pregnancy Knowledge Exchange, which is the first national source of expert knowledge and advice on teenage pregnancy, shares the lessons learned from past successes to help areas replicate the success.

Alison concluded: “The evidence is now very clear. We know what works and we want to share that knowledge with senior leaders, commissioners and frontline practitioners to ensure the continued downward trend in teenage pregnancy rates.”

Listen back to Alison discussing the ONS data on BBC Radio 4's Woman Hour's show (36 minutes in)

*Data monitored since 1998, the baseline year for the previous Government’s ten year Teenage Pregnancy Strategy.

Bedfordshire University

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