New Data Reveal That Teenage Pregnancy Rates Are on the Rise

Marie Stopes International is a not-for-profit sexual and reproductive health organisation that uses modern business methods to achieve the social goal of preventing unintended pregnancies and unwanted births in around countries worldwide.

London, United Kingdom, March 05, 2009 --( Following this morning’s publication of the 2007 provisional conception statistics from the Office for National Statistics, leading sexual health agency Marie Stopes International (MSI) issued the following statement:

For the first time in six years, the conception rate for under-18s in England and Wales has gone up. Provisional figures published today show that the under-18 conception rate increased from 40.9 conceptions per 1,000 women aged 15-17 in 2006 to 41.9 in 2007. The estimated number of conceptions to women aged under 18 in 2007 was 42,918. This is the first time that the conception rate for under-18s has risen since 2002.

This time last year, when the 2006 figures were published, we witnessed the biggest drop for five years in teenage conception rates. This was seen as clear confirmation that the Government’s Teenage Pregnancy Strategy, which aims to halve the under-18 conception rate by 2010, was working. However, the 2007 data has broken the downward trend.

While this is regrettable, it is important to remember that the 2007 data does not wipe out the overall gains that have been made over the course of the Teenage Pregnancy Strategy’s existence. Although at a national level conception rates have risen, the 2007 statistics also reveal that in those areas where the strategy has been appropriately implemented, reductions in teenage pregnancies are notable. For example, in London the conception rates have decreased from 52.8 conceptions per 1,000 women aged 15 – 17 in 2002 to 45.6 conceptions per 1,000 women aged 15 – 17 in 2007.

Moving forward, parents, educators, politicians and health and social services need to work together and re-double their efforts if we are to improve on the conception statistics. As adults, our role is to equip young people with the knowledge and resources to be able to protect themselves as they grow up. Just as we teach children how to cross the road safely, we should teach teenagers how to protect themselves against unintended pregnancies when they are discovering sex.

Parents should try to promote an open attitude towards talking about sex, to ensure their children approach them for advice if needed. Educators should guarantee the provision of age-appropriate sex education to teenagers, to lead to greater knowledge about contraception and more effective contraception use. And, following the wholesale closure of family planning centres across the UK in recent decades, politicians and health and social services need to facilitate the provision of accessible contraceptive advice, supplies and sexual health services specifically tailored to young people’s needs.

The evidence is clear that when the Teenage Pregnancy Strategy is prioritised, real reductions in teenage pregnancy rates can be achieved. We need to endeavour to prioritise sexual health to ensure the 2009 conception rates reach an all-time low.

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Emily James: 0207 034 2307
Tony Kerridge: 0207 034 2365 / 07748 948037

Marie Stopes International
Tony Kerridge
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