Lowest teenage pregnancy rates in Reading since 1998

The number of teenage pregnancies in Reading is at its lowest for 13 years, new figures have revealed.

The latest quarterly average of 41.7 pregnancies per 1,000 in Reading is the lowest recorded since the Teenage Pregnancy Strategy set up in 1998.

Reading achieved an overall reduction in teenage conceptions of 33.7% since 1998, Reading Borough Council said.

NHS bosses said they were pleased with the success but warned the figure was still above the national average.

The highest quarterly average rate of teenage conceptions in Reading since the strategy was set up, was 67.5 per 1,000, which was recorded in March 1999.

NHS Berkshire West has been working with Reading, Wokingham and West Berkshire councils on campaigns to halt teenage pregnancies.

Janet Maxwell, director of public health at NHS Berkshire West, said: "Our priority remains continuing this good work as teenage mothers are at risk from suffering post-natal depression and experience poor mental health after birth."

'Real difference'

A free emergency contraception scheme through local pharmacies, the setting up of a young people's health drop-in centre and a youth outreach nurse are just some of the measures believed to have helped lower Reading's teenage pregnancy rate.

John Ennis, Reading Borough Council's lead councillor for education and children's services, said: "This work has made a real difference to many Reading young people as far fewer now have unplanned pregnancies, or have babies before they have had a chance to grow up themselves."

The National Teenage Pregnancy Strategy was set up by the Social Exclusion Unit in 1998 on behalf of the then Labour Government to prevent pregnancy through education and improving contraceptive services.

The quarterly average, a rolling average which takes account of month-by-month variation, is compiled by the Office for National Statistics.

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