04-01-2011, 06:47 AM
Joined: Aug 2007
Figures show a fall in pregnancy rates among under-18s
Quote:By Dominic Hughes Health correspondent, BBC News
Pregnancies in girls under 18 in England and Wales have fallen to levels not seen since the early 1980s, according to new government figures.
The rate of conceptions in under-18s in 2009 fell by nearly 6% compared to the previous year.
The total number of pregnancies in 2009 increased very slightly after a small fall the previous year.
The figures - from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) - are estimates for 2009.
The rate of pregnancy among under 18s, which takes account of fluctuations in population, fell to 38.3 conceptions per 1,000 women aged 15-17.
The actual number of conceptions in under 18s was 38,259 compared with 41,361 in 2008, a decline of 7.5%.
Nearly half of these conceptions led to abortions.
The figures will give some encouragement to policy makers and health workers who have struggled to bring down teenage pregnancy rates after they hit a high in the early 1990s.
But they still fall well short of a target set by the previous Labour government in 1998, now abandoned by the Coalition, to cut teenage pregnancies by 50% by 2010.
A spokesman for the Welsh Assembly Government said would not be complacent and would work to drive down the rate of teenage pregnancies even further.
"Our Sexual Health Action Plan aims to reduce teenage pregnancies further and improve sexual health. The plan highlights the importance of prevention, education, individual responsibility, and access to healthcare services, when required.
"We strongly urge the government to ensure a continued local and national focus on teenage pregnancy as we know that if we stop focusing on delivering sexual health services the rates will go up.
"In times of public spending cuts, making cuts to sexual health services is short sighted as this is crucial to young people's wellbeing and actually saves money - for every £1 spent on contraception £11 is saved."
Julie Bentley, Chief Executive of the Family Planning Association, also believes today's figures should be welcomed, but sounds a note of caution.
"The success brought about by today's figures revealing we're seeing the lowest teenage pregnancy in England and Wales for 30 years is down to a dedicated strategy in England with a tried and tested formula of sex and relationships education, contraception and information services and local services working together.
"However, the fact that the strategy no longer exists is a significant cause for concern and so the government must examine how to keep this tremendous momentum going."
Maybe the Department for Culture should reevaluate if its programming
contributes to this.
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