FPA has welcomed a further year-on-year drop in teenage pregnancy rates in England and Wales, but is concerned that this cannot be sustained in the face of a ‘perfect storm’ of factors reversing advances in sexual and reproductive healthcare.
The most recent quarterly teenage pregnancy statistics, released by the Office for National Statistics this morning, show that rates have continued to decrease:
- The number of conceptions to women in England and Wales under 18 from April to June in 2016 was 19.3 per every thousand women aged 15 to 17 (4,594 women in total).
- This is an overall reduction of 10.6% from the same period the previous year, when the rate was 21.8 per every thousand (5,295 women in total).
- In England, the North West saw the greatest reduction (18.8%), and the East Midlands saw the smallest (4%).
Laura Russell, Policy Manager for the sexual health charity FPA, said:
“While it’s great news to see that teenage pregnancy rates are still continuing to fall, growing evidence that a range of vital sexual and reproductive health services are increasingly under strain suggests that it is becoming harder for young people to access the services they deserve.
“The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) released a report last month which raised serious concerns about the ‘perfect storm of factors [that] is reversing previous positive advances made in promoting sexual and reproductive health.’ These factors include a fragmented system of commissioning, a lack of training for healthcare professionals, and cuts to funding and services.
“FPA’s own report, Unprotected Nation, found that just a 10 per cent cut in spending on sexual health and contraceptive services across the UK could mean that teenage pregnancy rates go back to 2003 levels, undoing more than a decade of hard work. Recent dramatic cuts to public health budgets – £800 million over six years – could be laying the groundwork for future increases in teenage pregnancy rates.
"Pregnancy and parenthood can be a positive life choice for young people – not all teenage pregnancies are unplanned or unwanted. But young parents and their children are unfortunately more likely to experience a range of negative long-term educational, health and social outcomes. Young people should never face stigma for becoming parents but should be supported, for example by investment in providing education opportunities that can fit in with childcare, help with childcare costs and support with housing.”