Drop in Suffolk teen pregnancy

Rebecca GoughSuffolk has pledged to keep up the momentum as new figures show teenage conception rates in the county have fallen.Rebecca Gough

Suffolk has pledged to keep up the momentum after new figures revealed teenage conception rates in the county had fallen.

Figures released by the Office of National Statistics show the county's teenage pregnancy levels fell by from 31.5 per 1,000 young women between 15 and 17-years-old in 2007, to 30.4 in 2008. This translates to 423 who were pregnant in 2007, which fell to 407 in 2008.

It gives Suffolk an 18.9pc drop since 1998, a year before the national teen pregnancy strategy was introduced.

Work has been ongoing over the past few years to reduce the figures with an emphasis on honest discussions between young people and their parents. Two key areas to be built on in the future include sex and relationships education as part of the Personal Social and Economic education curriculum.

A Suffolk County Council spokesman said: 'These figures reflect a huge amount of hard work and dedication from strategic leaders, and those working in schools, youth services, sexual and reproductive health and wider children's services. But we need to keep up the momentum to bring down the rates even further.

'We have reduced teenage pregnancy rates through a shared commitment between partners under Suffolk's Children's Trust. We have a broad consensus on the approach to move forward by supporting more open and honest discussions between young people and their parents and the professionals who support them in and out of school.

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'We believe as we move into the next phase of the Strategy we can make even faster progress towards reducing teenage pregnancy rates and enabling young people to reach their full potential.'

Norfolk's teenage pregnancy levels also fell, by 15.2pc between 2007 and 2008- the lowest figure since the national teenage pregnancy strategy was launched in 1999. The figures mean nearly 100 fewer young women in Norfolk became pregnant in 2008 than in the previous year.

And nationally, the teenage pregnancy rate has also fallen from 41.7 per 1,000 in 2007, to 40.4 per 1,000 in 2008 - a 3.3pc drop.

The East of England had the lowest rate in the country, with 31.4 per 1,000 young women getting pregnant.

Dr Alistair Lipp, Director of Public Health for NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney, said: 'The statistics are encouraging, particularly in Great Yarmouth where there is historically a high number of teenage pregnancies. It shows that young people are taking a more informed and responsible approach to sexual health.'

Children's minister Dawn Primarolo added: 'Teenage pregnancy is no longer a rising problem. It is important that we recognise the progress made by many areas in driving down teenage pregnancy rates.'

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