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Last Updated: Thursday, 11 November, 2004, 10:57 GMT
Fewer conceptions among under 16s
Conception rates are rising
Conceptions among girls under 16 in England and Wales fell slightly between 2001 and 2002, official figures show.

There were an estimated 7,875 conceptions to girls aged under 16 in 2002 compared with 7,903 in 2001, a fall of 0.4%.

Campaigners say attempts to tackle teenage pregnancy should drive down rates still further.

However, the Office for National Statistics highlight that teenage pregnancy remains a big problem.

Much more needs to be done to challenge the taboo that still surrounds issues relating to young people and sex.
Jan Barlow
And that there is still a long way to go for the government to meet its 1998 goal of halving under 18 pregnancy rates in England by 2010.

For girls aged 15-17 the conception rate actually rose from 42.7 conceptions per 1,000 in 2001 to 42.8 per 1,000 in 2002.

About 71% of these conceptions were to 15-year-olds.

In England alone, the conception rate among 16-year-olds jumped by 3.2% on the previous year in 2002.

The ONS figures show that for all women aged 15-44 the conception rate rose by 3%.

There were an estimated 787,000 conceptions in 2002, compared with 764,000 in 2001.

There were 72.2 conceptions per 1,000 women in 2002, compared with 70.3 per 1,000 in 2001.

In 2002 around 23% of conceptions were ended by a legal abortion - the proportion has remained fairly stable for the past 12 years.

Anne Weyman, chief executive of the Family Planning Association, said: "We welcome the encouraging news that the rate of pregnancy in the under 16s across England and Wales is now at its lowest level since 1993.

"Tackling rates of teenage pregnancy requires an ongoing commitment from governments across the UK and wider society to help young people make choices about their future that include alternatives to early parenthood.

"Empowering young people to resist peer pressure to have early sex, supporting parents to talk to their children about sex, improving sex and relationships education in schools and ensuring better access to advice on sexual health for young people continue to provide a sound basis for future progress."

Jan Barlow, chief executive of Brook advisory services, said: "We should welcome the fact that there was a slight decrease in the rates for under-16s, and that the overall trend in recent years is downwards.

"However, much more needs to be done to challenge the taboo that still surrounds issues relating to young people and sex.

"We need a guarantee that every young person will receive comprehensive sex and relationships education in school and have access to confidential advice and sexual health services."

Infant mortality

The latest quarterly batch of statistics also include figures on stillbirths and infant deaths in England and Wales that occurred in 2003.

They show that infant morality rate was highest among mothers aged under 20 (7.9 per 1,000 live births) followed by those aged 40 and over (6.2 per 1,000 live births).

It was lowest among mothers in the 30-34 age group (4.3 per 1,000 live births).

Babies of mothers aged 40 and over were most likely to be stillborn, or die within a week of birth (11.8 per 1,000 births).

When the statistics were analysed according to the country of birth of the mother, it was found babies of mothers born in Pakistan had the highest infant mortality rate at 10.5 per 1,000 live births, more than double the overall infant mortality rate (5.2 per 1,000 live births).

Historically, the infant mortality rate has decreased from 13.8 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1976 to 5.6 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2000.

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