Ipswich: Town is a hot spot for teen pregnancies, figures reveal

IPSWICH: Teenage pregnancy rates are falling, but the town is still one of the worst hot spots in Suffolk, new figures reveal.

Latest statistics show there were 44.1 pregnancies per 1,000 girls aged 15 to 17 in Ipswich in 2009, down from 45.7 on 2008 figures.

Ipswich, the second-worst in Suffolk behind Waveney, compares poorly against the county’s 2009 figure of 28.5 and England’s 38.2.

Suffolk PCT said good progress had been made in the county but that resources need to be focused on areas such as Ipswich and Waveney.

Mashbileg Maidrag, public health consultant at Suffolk PCT, said: “These two areas are quite deprived and there’s good evidence girls there have low aspiration in terms of education and employment and also the risk-taking behaviour in the deprived areas is higher than in other areas.”

She added a drive from government over the last decade had helped slash the number of teenage pregnancies, cutting Suffolk’s numbers from 37.5 pregnancies per 1,000 in 1998 to 28.5 in 2009.

However, despite the progress made, Suffolk PCT still missed government-set targets for 2009, which asked for a drop to 20.6,

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Dr Dan Poulter, MP for central Suffolk and north Ipswich, said it had been a national scheme, Sure Start children’s centres, that had most impact on the figures.

He said: “The single biggest intervention that has helped reduce teenage pregnancies is having better community facilities, like Sure Start children’s centres. It’s a good way of helping with the community and supporting vulnerable young mothers.

“Sure Start centres are a good initiative and I have yet to see where the PCT has made an impact on things. Their involvement has at best been quite weak and it’s not something they can claim credit for.”