Bid to reduce Suffolk teen pregnancies

A CRUSADE is on today to slash teen pregnancy rates in Suffolk.

A CRUSADE is on today to slash teen pregnancy rates in Suffolk.

The conception rate for 15 to 17 year olds in the county is currently 31.7 per 1,000 females.

But amid a Government target to reduce pregnancies in teenagers nationwide, the county is now trying to reduce the figure to 20.6 by 2010.

The Suffolk Primary Care Trust (PCT) said there has been a reduction over the last few years, with figures at 33.3 in 2002, 32.8 in 2003 and 34 in 2004.

Sharon Singleton, an independent consultant, was this month brought in by the PCT to work on a teenage pregnancy prevention strategy.

The former county teenage pregnancy and sexual health manager said: “In Suffolk there has been a steady decline in rates. There was a blip in 2004 but that happens in any trend.

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“Since 1998 when conception rates started to be measured, the percentage change is -15.4pc.

“There's still a long way to go to reach the 2010 rate and we need a final push over the last few years. It was always expected for rates to drop slower to begin with, and then to have to really push for it in the last few years, which is where we are now.”

The PCT said reducing conception rates in the age bracket is among its highest priorities. The figures include pregnancies which do not result in birth.

The 2005 data is still provisional, as final figures have yet to be collated.

Sally Roberts, the PCT's lead outreach nurse, is involved in the campaign to reduce conception rates by providing an outreach service to the community.

She said: “Our motto is 'outreach nurses reach young people other's don't'.

“We go to youth clubs, where perhaps there are youngsters who don't go to school, to give them information so they can make informed choices.

“To make sure we reach the 2010 target we need to channel the work we do into hot spots.

“We would love to halve the conception rates, but are happy to make realistic targets.

“And we must remember some teenagers get pregnant for right reasons. For example, there might be a 16-year-old who has a baby and then at 17 says 'right I'm going to have another baby and finish my family now. Then I can study later'. It's a conscious and right choice for her to get pregnant but is still included in our figures.”

Figures for under 16s show the conception rate in Suffolk is 5.5 per 1,000. The worst place in England is Redcar and Cleveland, where the figure is 18.4, and the best is Buckingham, where it is 2.8.

n Is enough being done to reduce teen pregnancy rates in Suffolk? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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