Good progress in tackling teenage pregnancy rates

FIGURES Teenage pregnancies are falling
FIGURES Teenage pregnancies are falling

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THE number of teenage pregnancies in the county has fallen to the lowest in a decade, according to the latest figures.

A total of 687 girls aged 15 to 17 fell pregnant in 2009 in Hampshire, compared to 819 in 2008 – the highest number since 1998.

The figures from the Office of National Statistics also show there were 28.9 pregnancies per 1,000 under-18s in 2009, compared to a rate of 35.9 in 1998 – a decrease of 19.6 per cent. In most areas up to half of the pregnancies were ended by abortions.

Health officials have welcomed the fall in conceptions and say a number of new initiatives have helped reduce teenage pregnancies.

Kate Donohoe, NHS Hampshire’s health improvement practitioner, said: ‘NHS Hampshire is really pleased with the recent reductions in conception rates.

‘Looking back over the past two years, there’s been a variety of projects where we’ve been working closely with schools and colleges to improve the delivery of sex education. Nearly all of the further education colleges now have sexual health clinics on site – which is a nurse-led clinic once a week where students can come in and get advice. They are really well used.

‘We also have the Speak Easy course which enables parents to talk to their children about sexual health and it’s been really well received. We are committed to continuing the work on this too.’

Within Hampshire there are variations in teen pregnancies between different areas. In Havant from 2007-09 there were 281 pregnancies, while in Gosport there were 233 pregnancies and in Fareham there were 177. But all figures were a decrease on conceptions for the previous three years.

Meanwhile, the number of pregnancies in Portsmouth has increased as in 2009, 159 under-18s fell pregnant, compared to 147 in 2008. But the good news is the rate of pregnancies has decreased since 1998 as for every 1,000 under-18s in the city in 2009, there were 50 conceptions – down 12.3 per cent compared to 1998.

Rimple Poonia, senior manager for health improvement and development at Portsmouth City Council, said: ‘Whilst a lot of targeted work has been undertaken to address teenage pregnancy rates we still have a higher-than-acceptable rate that we need to work to bring down.

‘To help address this we have undertaken an review of teenage pregnancies over the last year to investigate why Portsmouth’s rates continue to be high.’