Health

Teen pregnancy rate continues to fall

pregnant woman Image copyright SPL

The teen pregnancy rate in England and Wales is continuing to fall, latest figures show.

It stands at 23.3 per 1,000 women aged 15 to 17, which experts say is more in line with the rest of Western Europe.

There were 5,740 pregnancies in girls aged under 18 in the three months to June 2014, data from the Office for National Statistics shows.

This compares with 6,279 in the same period in 2013 and 7,083 for the June quarter the year before that.

Historically, the UK has had one of the highest teenage pregnancy and abortion rates in Western Europe.

In recent years, the government put a series of strategies in place in an attempt to get these figures down.

There are no comparable rates for conceptions across Europe, but the under-18 birth rate suggests England is closing the gap.

The under-18 birth rate in 2012 in England and Wales was 9.2, compared with an EU average of 6.9.

However, the UK birth rate has fallen by almost a third (32.3%) since 2004 compared with a fall of 15.6% in the EU.

In 2004, the UK rate was 13.6 births per 1,000 women aged 15-17 compared with an EU average rate of 7.7.

A spokeswoman for the British Pregnancy Advisory Service said: "Contrary to popular perception, this data shows that the teenage pregnancy rate is falling dramatically in England and Wales. While the UK has historically had a high teenage conception rate, it is now at its lowest level on record and not significantly out of step with other European countries.

"We have seen a huge decline in the number of babies born to teenage mothers over the last decade, in part due to the improvements we've seen in contraception advice and services for younger women, with straightforward access to abortion services when their chosen method lets them down. But it also reflects broader societal shifts, with younger women quite rightly expecting and able to pursue educational and professional ambitions."

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