Rise In Teenage Pregnancies, Figures Show

The number of teenage pregnancies in England and Wales has risen by 6.4% in one year, according to new figures released today.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed the teen pregnancy rate was 42.6 girls per 1,000, from January to March 2007, while it was 42.7 for the period April to June.

The actual number of pregnancies in girls under 16 increased from 7,826 in 2006 to 8,196 the following year.

Nearly three-quarters of these pregnancies were in 15-year-old girls.

The under-18 conception rate increased from 40.9 per 1,000 women in 2006 to 41.9 in 2007.

In total, there were estimated to be just over 42,900 conceptions in under 18s.

Hilary Pannack, of the sex education charity Straight Talking, said: "We are failing a whole generation of young people."

"Teenage parents statistically are much more likely to become parents of children who themselves become teenage parents.

"That means generations of child poverty, which we need desperately to tackle."

Juliet Hiller, of Brook, a sexual health charity for young people, also described the statistics as "disappointing", adding it was "not surprising" to see the increase.

She said: "It is essential that funding finds its way to local areas where the need is greatest and this is simply not happening consistently."

She also said that sex education needed to be improved, describing it as currently too 'biological'.

Meanwhile, the government has announced a £20.5 million package to promote contraception for areas with high teenage pregnancy rates.

The funding will be used to give young people better access to contraception and support, as well as raising awareness of the risks of unprotected sex.

Health Minister Dawn Primarolo said: "Young people need good advice and easy access to contraception when they become sexually active. To help, we are improving access to contraception by providing an extra £20.5 million funding this year.

"We are supporting the NHS to offer women of all ages the full range of contraceptive choices, including long acting, reversible, methods such as implants and injections which are virtually 100 per cent effective. And we're giving local health services more money to come up with innovative ways of making sure young women use their contraceptives properly, such as text message reminders."

Beverly Hughes, the Children's Minister for England, also said the government had made cutting teenage pregnancy rates a priority, and rates had come down over the last decade.

But she accepted that progress had not been as swift as has had been hoped.


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