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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 July 2007, 07:15 GMT 08:15 UK
Teen contraceptive plans unveiled
A teenage mother (Picture: SPL)
The government wants to bring teenage conception rates down
Young mothers and fathers are to be given better access to contraception as part of a government drive to cut teenage pregnancy rates.

Plans also include measures to encourage young mothers to continue living with their parents.

The proposals are part of a new strategy to help teen parents cope with the demands of bringing up children.

Government figures show one fifth of teenage pregnancies involve girls under 18 who already have a child.

Families Minister Beverley Hughes said teenage pregnancy rates were being tackled, but more needed to be done to target the "isolation" suffered by many young parents.

"We must now do more to address the reality of teenagers who become parents," she said.

Dropping out

Under the plans, access to contraception for young mothers and fathers will be improved "to prevent repeat, unplanned pregnancies".

Teenage fathers will also be encouraged to feel more "welcome" and involved, the strategy said.

Young parents and their children are more likely to suffer problems with health as well as being more likely to drop out of school than their peers, government research shows.

By addressing this issue now, not only will we be able to improve the lives of young parents, we can also help prevent repeat pregnancies
Families Minister Beverley Hughes

Figures also reveal the children of teenage mothers are more likely to become young parents themselves.

They also have 60% higher rates of infant mortality than those born to mothers between the ages of 20 and 39.

"By addressing this issue now, not only will we be able to improve the lives of young parents, we can also help prevent repeat pregnancies and reduce the negative outcomes associated with the children of teenagers," said Ms Hughes.

Tailored services, friendly professionals and long-term support were all essential, she said.

"As part of our drive to narrow inequalities, they are a key group who deserve our help, commitment and support," she added.

The Independent Advisory Group on Teenage Pregnancy welcomed the government's new plans. Chairwoman Gill Frances said: "Access to contraceptive advice and help must be improved and if the current trend of cutting community contraceptive services continues, no progress will be made on helping young mothers avoid second pregnancies, which is a critical issue."

The UK has some of the highest teenage pregnancy rates in Europe.

Office for National Statistics figures for England and Wales revealed earlier this year the overall conception rate in under 18s remained virtually stable from 42,198 in 2004 to 42,187 in 2005.

The government wants to bring the figure down using information campaigns on contraception and safe sex.

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