Drop in teen pregnancies welcomed

A FALL in the number of Northumberland teenage pregnancies has been welcomed.

New figures from the Office for National Statistics show that conceptions involving girls under 18 across the county fell by 7.2 per cent – from 195 in 2009 to 181 in 2010.

Reducing the rate is a priority area for Northumberland Care Trust and Northumberland County Council, who work together through local teenage pregnancy partnership boards.

A 10-year strategy, which is in its final year, has been in place to try to tackle the issue and the rate has fallen by 19.1 per cent since 1998.

Sue Gordon, acting executive director of public health for NHS North of Tyne, said: “We are pleased that the number of young women becoming pregnant has decreased overall again this year.

“We have continued to invest in services to reduce rates of teenage pregnancy across the area to strengthen our work to reduce unplanned conceptions, which we hope will continue to improve the future results for 2011 and beyond.

“However, we are not complacent and will continue to work with young people so that they have the right information and skills to delay sex until they are ready and the confidence to access and use contraception when they need it.”

Across the county, there has been a sustained focus on targeted programmes to increase awareness of effective methods of contraception among young people.

Services are currently targeting areas where rates are highest in a bid to reduce them even further.

Coun Lesley Rickerby, who chairs Northumberland’s teenage pregnancy board, said: “Tackling teenage pregnancy is central to Northumberland County Council’s and Northumberland Care Trust’s work to prevent health inequalities, child poverty and social exclusion.

“These new figures show that over the long term we are decreasing the number of young women who become pregnant, and we remain below the national average for England.”