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Thursday, 28 February, 2002, 12:24 GMT
Teenage pregnancies fall again
The number of teenage pregnancies has fallen
The number of teenage pregnancies has fallen
The number of teenage pregnancies has fallen for the second year running, according to figures from the Office of National Statistics.

The ONS figures show there was a 2.4% fall in pregnancy rates in under 18s from 1999 to 2000 in England, part of a total 6.3% drop since 1998.

The government is aiming to reduce teenage pregnancies in under 18s in England by 15% by 2004.


It's encouraging that the figures are beginning to decrease

Anne Weyman, Family Planning Association

The ONS added up figures for England and Wales, and found there had been a slightly smaller fall overall in the number of pregnancies in 15 to 19 year olds, of 1% between 1999 and 2000.

They dropped from 62.9 to 62.2 per 1,000 teenagers.

The conception rate for under 16's remained static at just over eight conceptions per thousand girls, with the percentage leading to an abortion increasing slightly to 54%.

But increasing numbers of older women are opting to have families in their 30s and 40s, while conception rates for women in their 20s have generally fallen.

The ONS figures also show 52% of conceptions were outside marriage in 2000, compared with 42% in 1989.

Progress

The government's strategy to tackle teenage pregnancy rates was launched in 1999.

Life expectancy (1998-2000, ONS)
Men:
Highest: East Dorset 79
Horsham, West Sussex 78.9
Rutland 78.9
Lowest: Glasgow City 68.7
Inverclyde 69.9
Women:
Highest: Westminster 83.5
North Dorset 83.4
Lowest: Glasgow 75.7
West Dunbartonshire 76.4
Responding to the ONS figures, published on Thursday, public health minister Yvette Cooper said: "These figures are very welcome given the government's determination to bring teenage pregnancies down."

She added: "Teenage pregnancies in this country remain too high but we are now making progress with a national reduction of more than 6% in two years.

"Evidence shows that better education and employment opportunities for teenagers, alongside improved advice and support around sex, relationships and contraception can make a real difference in bringing teenage pregnancy rates down."

She said progress had to be maintained if the 15% target was to be met.

Anne Weyman, chief executive of the Family Planning Association, said: "It's encouraging that the figures are beginning to decrease, and we are optimistic that the important work being done at local and national level as part of the government's Teenage Pregnancy Strategy will continue the downward trend.

"Teenage pregnancy is a complex problem linked to social exclusion, low educational attainment and low expectations.

"It will not be solved overnight, and it is vital that the momentum is kept up to provide better sex and relationships education, better access to sexual health services and better support for teenage parents."

Jan Barlow, chief executive of Brook, which offers free and confidential sexual health advice to young people, said: "Teenage pregnancy is only one aspect of young people's sexual health, and today's figures also need to be seen in the context of rising rates of sexually transmitted infections, particularly amongst young women.

"Whilst sex education in schools is improving, it is clear that young people remain poorly informed about the risks of sexually transmitted infections and of pregnancy.

"A great deal of work remains to be done to ensure young people get access to the free and confidential information, advice and services they need to help them make informed choices about their sexual health."

See also:

22 Mar 01 | Health
Drop in teenage pregnancies
08 Mar 01 | Health
Contraception fails UK youth
10 Oct 00 | Health
'Virginity' scheme under fire
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