Teen pregnancy rates in Ipswich fall to all time low – but are still higher than national average
- Credit: Archant
Teenage pregnancy rates in Ipswich have fallen to an all-time low – but are still worse than most London boroughs and the national average, figures reveal.
Pregnancy rates in the town for women aged between 15 and 17 were 29.4 conceptions per thousand in 2013, it emerged yesterday.
This is the lowest since regional records began in 1998, when the rate stood at 60.4.
Long-running campaigns educating girls about the risks of unprotected sex, new career aspirations among young women and a feared stigma of being labelled a ‘teenage mum’ were credited for the improvement.
But the current rate in Ipswich is still higher than the England average of 24.3 – and is the 70th worst out of 327 areas nationwide.
In contrast, the Colchester and Essex rates were 20.6 and 22.3 respectively. The combined London average was 22.1, with only four out of 32 London boroughs worse than Ipswich.
Other places with better under-18 pregnancy rates include Bradford (27.9), Birmingham (25.9) and Luton (24.4).
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Dr Dan Poulter, MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich, admitted there is more work to do but insisted the overall improving picture is the result of “fantastic” work by Suffolk County Council (SCC), the NHS and schools to educate girls on the difficulties of having babies at a young age.
He said: “Initiatives in Ipswich and the surrounding area are making young people more aware of the importance of understanding what it means to have a baby.
“In some cases, young people look after a realistic doll which really brings it home to them what it means to bring new life into this world…and what it means for their own lives, which is key to reducing pregnancy rates.
“We have also got family nurses working with teenage mothers in Ipswich, helping them to get back into education or training, rather than perhaps having another child immediately after the birth of their first child.”
Broken down, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) report said there were 66 estimated conceptions among under-18s in Ipswich in 2013 – a fall from 91 in 2012 and almost half the amount of 126 in 1998.
The percentage of pregnancies resulting in abortions among under-18s in Ipswich also increased between 1998 and 2013 – from 27.8% to 43.9%.
The ONS believes improved programmes of sex and relationship education introduced by successive governments have helped reduce teenage pregnancies.
Its report said a “shift in aspirations of young women towards education” or the “perception of stigma associated with being a teenage mother” have also helped.
Alan Murray, cabinet member for health and adult care at SCC, said: “We have been working hard to reduce unwanted conceptions and recognise the importance of young people being knowledgeable so they can make informed decisions about sex.
“We have worked on reducing alcohol misuse, as there is a strong link between drinking and unsafe sex, and have made it easier for young people to access contraception and sexual health services.
“We are encouraged by the continued drop in teenage pregnancies but we are not complacent about this issue, which tends to be concentrated in less affluent communities in Suffolk.”