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Tuesday, 5 December, 2000, 14:58 GMT
Teenage pregnancies highest in poor areas
Teenagers are more likely to keep their babies in urban areas
Teenagers are more likely to keep their babies in urban areas
Teenagers are more likely to become pregnant if they live in poor urban areas.

Top-rated inner city authority Southwark has five times the rate of conceptions amongst under 18s than the lowest rated authority, affluent Chiltern.

According to new statistics from the Office for National Statistics, girls are least likely to fall pregnant in prosperous rural areas.

Wales has the highest conception rates for under-18s. England had the highest proportion leading to abortion.

But Scotland had a lower than average conception rate for under-18s and percentage of conceptions leading to abortion.

Within England, there was a north-south divide, with northern regions having higher conception rates than their southern counterparts.

London is the exception to the rule, with a high conception rate.

Urban areas highest

The figures, published in the winter edition of Population Trends found high numbers of pregnancies were in areas classed as urban and industrial, where there are high levels of unemployment, a higher number of semi-skilled or unskilled workers and more living in terraced or social housing.

The analysis catalogues the rates across the UK between 1992 and 1997.

Lower rates were found in prosperous rural areas, with a higher proportion of the population in professional or managerial jobs and more people owning their homes.

Chiltern has a rate of just 15.4 per 1,000, but Southwark, in London has 85 pregnancies per 1,000 girls under 18.

Manchester has the most teenage pregnancies in the north-west, with 74.2 per 1,000, though only a quarter opt for abortions, the lowest number in the area.

It is vital that all young women facing an unplanned pregnancy receive unbiased advice on all the options available, including abortion

Anne Weyman
Family Planning Association

In the south-west, East Dorset has the lowest rate of teenage conceptions, with just 18.9 per 1,000 becoming pregnant. It also has the highest rate of abortions in the region. Two thirds choose to have a termination.

A study published in November by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation showed teenage girls continued with pregnancy because their families and local communities were opposed to abortion.

The study interviewed girls from Doncaster, one of the most socially deprived areas of the UK, which has one of the highest rates of teenage pregnancy.

Better advice needed

The UK has the highest rate of teenage pregnancies in western Europe with 95,000 conceptions last year, resulting in 58,000 live births.

The government has pledged to halve the number of teenage pregnancies by 2010, through initiatives led by the Social Exclusion Unit.

Anne Weyman, Chief Executive of the Family Planning Association said: "These findings confirm what we have known for some time.

"Teenage pregnancy rates are higher in areas of deprivation and among girls who are less educated.

"In addition, teenagers from poorer backgrounds are far less likely to choose an abortion than girls from more affluent families."

She said the FPA advocated comprehensive sex education in schools and at home to inform teenagers and help reduce teenage pregnancy levels.

Ms Weyman added: "It is vital that all young women facing an unplanned pregnancy receive unbiased advice on all the options available, including abortion.

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17 Aug 00 | Health
Teenage girls fail with Pill
05 May 00 | Health
Teenagers 'regret' early sex
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