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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 February, 2005, 06:58 GMT
Strategy 'tackles teen pregnancy'
Pregnant woman
The department says huge progress has been made
Pregnancies among under 17s have fallen by more than 25% since a strategy to tackle the issue was launched, the Department of Health has said.

The department published its report on teenage pregnancy in 2000.

Northern Ireland's teen pregnancy rates are among the highest in Europe and most often occur in areas of social and economic deprivation.

Two keynote speakers from the US will address a conference on the issue in Templepatrick on Wednesday.

'Dropped considerably'

After publishing its report on teenage pregnancy and parenthood in 2000, the department issued its strategy to reduce teenage pregnancies in 2002.

Dr Miriam McCarthy, chair of the Teenage Pregnancy and Parenthood Implementation Group, said: "In the past four years, teenage pregnancy rates have dropped considerably, with the most marked decrease occurring in the under-17 age group.

"The numbers of children born to teenagers in this age group fell from 222 in 2000 to 155 in 2004.

"I believe this decrease can be attributed to the excellent work of the health, education and voluntary sectors working together in the community to provide advice, services and support, to both young people and their parents."

Dr McCarthy said "huge progress" had been made, but there was still a lot of work to be done "to equip young people with the knowledge and skills to inform their decisions and their choices in relationships".

The department's strategy aimed to reduce the number of unplanned births to teenage mothers and to provide support and care for teenage parents and their children.

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