Ipswich: MP says pupils need greater life choices to avoid pregnancy trap

A Suffolk MP today called for schools to give pupils better guidance after it emerged that Ipswich’s rising number of teen pregnancies is higher than the national average.

The figures were released by the Cambridgeshire Community Services NHS Trust’s sexual health team in Suffolk to mark today’s World Contraception Day.

During 2010 there were 46.2 pregnancies in Ipswich per 1,000 youngsters aged between 15 and 17. The national average is 40.9, and the average in Suffolk is 30.9.

Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP, Dan Poulter, said better education, and highlighting the options for youngsters after they leave school could bring the numbers down.

He said: “I think we do need to have a more active engagement strategy with young people – it’s going to require thinking about how we engage with young people and present them with different life options.

“We need to ensure people are aware of what life choices are available to them so they can go on and have a career.

“I think there needs to be more interaction between the PCT and local schools.”

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Figures from 2009, which were released earlier this year, showed there were 44.1 pregnancies per 1,000 girls aged 15 to 17 in Ipswich in 2009, down from 45.7 on 2008 figures.

At the time the high figures were blamed on youngsters having low aspirations in terms of employment and education, a view shared by Dr Poulter.

He said: “People seem to think there is only a choice between university or no university but there are other options such as apprenticeships. I think this should be highlighted in schools.”

Sexual health team staff admitted they still have a way to go to reduce teen pregnancy numbers in Ipswich, but they believe education is the key.

Dr Evelyn Kerr, a consultant on community sexual and reproductive health at Cambridgeshire Community Services NHS Trust, said: “The international evidence shows that the two most important measures to reduce teenage pregnancy rates are comprehensive information, advice and support, combined with accessible, young people friendly sexual health services.

“We know that we still have a long way to go, particularly in more urban areas like Ipswich, but we’re taking advantage of the day to remind young people where they can go for professional, confidential help.”

World Contraception Day aims to show young people the importance of practising safe sex.

For more information please visit www.norisks.co.uk. The main clinic in Ipswich is located at Trotman Court in Lower Brook Street. For opening times please call 01473 428001.

What do you think about the rise in teen pregnancies? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or you can e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.