Teenage pregnancy rate at record low in England and Wales, says ONS


The number of girls under 18 falling pregnant in England and Wales continues to fall and is at the lowest level since records began in 1969.

Estimated conception rates among girls aged 15-17 have almost halved in 15 years, to 24.5 per 1,000 girls, according to figures (pdf) from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

There were 24,306 such conceptions in 2013, down 13% from 27,834 the previous year. Among under-16s there was a 14% fall, from 5,432 to 4,648. There were 1,151 conceptions among 14-year-olds and 227 among under-14s, both down on the previous year.

The proportion of under-18s’ pregnancies ending in abortion rose from 48.7% to 50.7%.

Successive governments have sought to improve sexual and relationship education and access to contraceptives as evidence has mounted over the social and economic disadvantages associated with teenage motherhood.

Conceptions among women over 35 increased again, while the rate among those aged 40 and over has more than doubled since 1990. Conceptions among under-35s are falling. Pregnancies for all girls and women between 15 and 44 were down 1.3% to 872,849, the ONS estimates show.

Alison Hadley, a former leader of the government’s strategy on teenage pregnancy, said of the decline in conception among under-18s: “This is an incredible achievement which we should celebrate and is a great tribute to everyone who has worked so hard to bring down the rates.

“We must continue to invest in young people’s sexual health and ensure each successive generation has the information and services that they need, or the teenage pregnancy rate may well climb again. This work needs to be a continuing priority.”

Kevin Fenton, national director of health and wellbeing at Public Health England, said: “Young people who have the highest rate of unplanned pregnancy and teenage parenthood can be at risk of a range of poor outcomes, such as poor educational achievement, poor physical and mental health, social isolation and poverty, so it is vital this downward trend is continued.”

The public health minister, Jane Ellison, said: “Teenage pregnancy is down by nearly 30% since 2010 and has almost halved since 1998. However, we need to keep up the momentum and make sure young people are adopting positive, healthy lifestyles early on.”

The British Pregnancy Advisory Service (Bpas) said it was “extremely important” that young women had swift access to services and support.

“Meanwhile, the conception rate for older women has risen steadily, as women wait longer to start their families,” said Clare Murphy, Bpas director of external affairs. “There are many reasons for this, not least the time it takes to achieve financial stability and establish a career.

“Pregnancy and childbirth for older women can present particular challenges, but rather than pressurising women into having children earlier than they feel is right for them, we need to ensure the maternity services are in place to deliver the care they need.”

In England, the north-east had the highest under-18 conception rate, at 30.6 per 1,000 girls aged 15-17. Fenton said significant progress had been made in curbing teenage conceptions in the region. The north-east also had the lowest conception rate for all those between 15 and 44, at 70.6 conceptions per 1,000, while London had the highest overall conception rate at 85.2.

The proportion of conceptions outside marriage or civil partnerships continued to rise, now accounting for 57% of the total, compared with 55% in 20o3 and 45% in 1993.

The proportion of conceptions outside marriage or civil partnerships leading to birth was 69%, against 92% inside marriage or civil partnership.

source: http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/feb/24/teenage-pregnancy-rate-record-low


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