Pregnancy rates among teenagers falling

TEENAGE pregnancy rates in Suffolk have fallen by over a fifth in the last four years.The pregnancy rate in 15 to 17 year old girls has fallen from 37.

TEENAGE pregnancy rates in Suffolk have fallen by over a fifth in the last four years.

The pregnancy rate in 15 to 17 year old girls has fallen from 37.3 conceptions per thousand in 1998, to 29.3 per thousand in 2001, a reduction of 21.5 per cent.

And the fall in numbers is set to continue following an increase in funding and support across the county, with money no longer coming from the Department of Health but from the Department for Education and Skills.

Sharon Singleton, Suffolk's teenage pregnancy co-ordinator, believes that it is education and training which have really helped to tackle the problem.

She said: "The reduction of teenage pregnancy in Suffolk is largely due to an increase of training in sex and relationships and the growth in skill based health services, particularly in the Waverley area.

"There has been an increase in formal and informal education both in the community, via youth clubs and the Connexions service, and in schools."

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Work is continuing to reduce levels even further, with recent seminars held in Newmarket, Waveney, Woodbridge and Eye which brought local organisations together to discuss further ways to tackle the problem.

More than 250 delegates from a range of organisations including Connexions, Suffolk primary care trusts, Suffolk County Council and the voluntary sector attended the seminars with the intention of working together to cut the rate of teenage pregnancy.

Speakers included Nicki O'Hara, from the Drug and Alcohol Team, Alison Embley, from Suffolk Healthy Schools Programme, and Marisa Batson from Connexions Suffolk.

Mrs Singleton added: "The reduction in teenage rates is testament to the amount of work the partners have put in over the last five or six years, we need to work together to reduce the figure further.

"Obviously the latest figures are for 2001, so I would like to think we have improved on this figure."

Although work is being done to reduce the number of teenage pregnancies, care for teenage mothers is not being ignored with training sessions planned for professionals involved in the pre and post natal care of teenagers.

These courses will be run by the Maternity Alliance on October 6 and October 21 and will be operating on a first come, first served basis.

Anyone interested in attending should contact Sharon Singleton on 01473 261914.

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