County sees fall in teen pregnancies

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HEALTH bosses say the number of teenage pregnancies in Northumberland has dropped.

This is despite the figure appearing to be higher due to a small increase in the teenage female population.

Provisional government data shows the number of conceptions fell from 197 in 2008 to 195 in 2009.

The figure equates to an increase of 1.2 per cent in the rate of under 18 conceptions, from 34.5 per 1,000 girls aged 15 to 17 in 2008, to 34.9 per 1,000 in 2009.

But despite some fluctuations from year to year, the general trend in Northumberland is downwards with a decrease of 16.5 per cent since 1998 and the current figures remain below the national average.

In Northumberland there has been a sustained focus on targeted programmes to increase awareness of effective methods of contraception amongst young people.

Students at Northumberland College benefit from a newly refurbished health room and students are being trained and supported to become peer sexual health educators within the college.

The sexual health service recently won a regional award for their innovative approaches in improving access to contraception through targeted nurse led services.

Coun Lesley Rickerby, who chairs Northumberland’s teenage pregnancy board, said: “Tackling teenage pregnancy is central to Northumberland’s work to prevent health inequalities, child poverty and social exclusion.

“These new figures show that over the long term we are decreasing the number of young women who become pregnant, and we remain below the national average for England.”

“In the county our teenage pregnancy partnership works with all the key partners including education, health and young people’s services – and we will continue to work closely together to ensure the very best outcomes for our young people.”