Teen pregnancies in Ipswich rise in past year

Teen pregnancies rising

Teen pregnancies rising - Credit: PA

Teen pregnancies have risen in Ipswich for the first time in seven years, according to the latest figures.

Teen pregnancy figures for Ipswich.

Teen pregnancy figures for Ipswich. - Credit: Archant

The 2014 Health Profiles, compiled by Public Health England, has revealed that the number of under 18 pregnancies in Ipswich this year is ‘significantly worse’ than the average for the country.

Figures for 2014 show that there were 38.9 teenage pregnancies in Ipswich (per 1,000 for girls aged 15 to 17), compared to a national average of 27.7.

Last year, the figure for the town stood at 34.6, revealing an increase of 4.3 in the previous 12 months.

However, from 2007 to last year, the number of teenage pregnancies significantly decreased year on year from 49.6 to 34.6, showing a general trend towards declining numbers of under 18s becoming pregnant.

Despite the small increase in the latest health summary, Public Health Suffolk said it was not an indicator of a trend that young pregnancies may be on the rise.

Councillor Alan Murray, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for health and adult care, said: “It’s encouraging that the continuing trend is a reduction to the teenage pregnancy rate. In fact, between 1998 and 2012, the under-18 conception rate in Suffolk decreased by 34%. However, we carefully monitor this information for any increase so that we know where to target our resources most effectively.

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“We work closely with partners and the providers of sexual health services as part of the multi-agency Teenage Pregnancy Steering Group to identify and support the implementation of interventions to inform and help young people. We aim to raise awareness of the issue in schools, sexual health clinics and contraception services and target support with young people at risk of teenage pregnancy.”

Increased teaching of contraception and sexual health in schools is believed to have contributed to the general decline in teen pregnancies.

Graham White, secretary of the Suffolk National Union of Teachers, said: “Within schools, there is a whole Personal, Social, Health Education (PSHE) programme, which includes contraception, that is very important in educating people for wider life. However, what is being taught in PSHE is getting bigger and bigger, so something has to give.”

Ben Gummer, MP for Ipswich, said: “The fall in recent years has been extremely welcome, especially in an area where few thought it was possible to make so considerable a difference. If future years show a rise then that would be a considerable concern but at this stage I know everyone involved in reducing teenage pregnancies will want to check what they are doing and make any changes necessary: hopefully it will be a ‘blip’. As always, I am on hand to provide any help agencies may need in getting the resources and access they require to be able to do their job.”