Teenage pregnancies down in Central Beds

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The number of school girls under 16 who are getting pregnant in Central Bedfordshire has been ‘drastically; reduced.

Central Beds Council have released figures that show conception rates in the under 16s fell by 38.7 per cent between 2011 and 2012 from 6.7 to 4.2 conception per 1,000 girls, and are below the England rate (5.6) and East of England rate (5.4).

It says this is thanks to early intervention programmes, increased access to sexual health services and targeted work with young people who may be at an increased risk.

Figures released by the Office of National Statistics show that the fall in conception rates also continued for those under 18 in Central Bedfordshire, since the authority was formed in 2009.

At that time there were 32.5 conceptions per 1,000 girls which has fallen by just over 18 per cent to 26.7 per 1,000 in 2012.

The national average conception rate for under 18s is 27.7 per 1,000.

Councillor Mark Versallion, executive member for children’s services, welcomed the news and said: “Our young people are benefiting from the dedicated services in place which are giving them greater opportunity to make other decisions about their education and life.

“Teenage pregnancy is falling across the country but we need to do more to enable young people to reach their full potential.”

Since 2009 Central Bedfordshire has established young-people-friendly sexual health services in an effort to reduce the higher conception rate.

“Work has included projects to raise the self esteem and aspirations of young people and to build their resilience to the range of pressures that modern adolescents are exposed to.”

Muriel Scott, Director of Public Health for Central Bedfordshire, is pleased the hard work is paying off and believes there is still more to be done.

She said: “Reducing teenage pregnancy requires commitment from all services working with children and young people. We all have a role to play in supporting young people to develop self esteem, aspirations, accurate understanding of relationships and sex and knowing where to go to for advice and guidance.

“It is important that we continue to prioritise on improving outcomes for children and young people.”