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Pregnancy rate among under-18s in Cambridgeshire is at lowest recorded levels

The number of teenage pregnancies is declining in Cambridgeshire
The number of teenage pregnancies is declining in Cambridgeshire

Proportion of under-18s who fell pregnant in Cambridge and South Cambridgehire in 2016 are revealed

New figures show the rate of pregnancies among under-18s in Cambridgeshire is at its lowest since records began 20 years ago.

In 1998, when the Office for National Statistics first started compiling conception data by local authority, the pregnancy rate for young women aged 15-17 was 31 per 1,000. By 2016, the year covered by the latest statistics, that had more than halved to 12.

In Cambridge, the number fell from 34 per 1,000 to 11 in the same period, and the figures for South Cambridgeshire showed a reduction from 17 to just three per 1,000.

Natika Halil, chief executive of sexual health charity FPA, put the “dramatic fall” in teenage pregnancy rates down to hard work from health and education professionals, as well as the Teenage Pregnancy Strategy, which ended in 2010.

She said: “That’s why it’s so concerning to see the cuts to sexual health services across the country, which could so easily undermine this hard-won achievement, and mean that we see these results reverse in the coming years.

“Teenage pregnancy can be a result of many different factors, but we know it can be reduced by investing the right time, resources and expertise into services and education.

“This investment not only saves money in the long term, but also helps prevent the range of negative long-term educational, health and social outcomes that young parents and their children are more likely to experience.”

In Cambridgeshire, 126 under-18s became pregnant in 2016 and 56 per cent chose to have an abortion, up from 48 per cent in 1998, and more than the average for England and Wales. Nineteen women under 18 became pregnant in Cambridge in 2016 and six chose to have an abortion, and the figures in for South Cambridgeshire were nine pregnancies and four abortions.

The percentage of young mothers who chose to have an abortion was higher in the under-16 age group. Between 2014 and 2016 there were 84 under-age pregnancies in Cambridgeshire, with 70 per cent having an abortion. The statistics were merged into three-year periods, as the annual figures are very small.

Ms Halil said: “It’s important to remember that whether or not young people are sexually active, or choose to become parents, they should never face stigma or judgment.

“Pregnancy and parenthood can be a positive life choice for young people, and young parents deserve to get the support they need to make informed choices about their lives. This is support that only properly-funded services, alongside high-quality relationships and sex education, can provide.”

A Department of Health spokeswoman said that nationally “teenage pregnancies now stand at the lowest levels since records began”. She added that the government has “given local authorities more than £16billion to spend on public health, including to improve access to sexual health services”.

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