Teen pregnancies at all-time low but charity fears cuts will spoil work

PUBLISHED: 09:52 19 January 2018

Teenage pregnancies hit a record low in Suffolk: Photo: Katie Collins/PA Wire

Teenage pregnancies hit a record low in Suffolk: Photo: Katie Collins/PA Wire

Fewer Suffolk teenagers are getting pregnant than ever before, data reveals.

The latest figures, released by the Office for National Statistics, show conceptions to 15-17-year-olds have reached their lowest level in the county since records began in 1998.

From July to September 2016, 25 teens from Suffolk fell pregnant, which is a rate of 8.2 per cent per 1,000 girls.

This was a dramatic improvement from the previous quarter when there were 61 conceptions.

The numbers have been steadily dropping since the early 2000s when the quarterly total regularly sat between 90 and 110.

Nancy Merfeld, wellbeing clinical manager at Suffolk Young People’s Health Project, also known as 4YP, welcomed the news, but fears future cuts to services will jeopardise the success.

She said: “The concern is reductions in funding for things like sexual health, because here are these great figures and we are finally making some really good progress so to have the funding that will be reduced again is a worry after all this hard work.”

Miss Merfeld put the drop in teenage pregnancies in Suffolk down to improved access to contraception as well as information and advice, which had helped “take the stigma out of asking questions about their reproductive health”.

She added: “A reduction in teenage pregnancies means lots of good things for not just young girls but the families they belong to.”

Sexual health services are due to be scaled back because of Suffolk County Council (SCC) cuts. The number of days and hours of clinic operation by iCash Suffolk will be reducing and replaced with more support online. A public consultation on the proposed changes finished at the end of 2017.

Tony Goldson, SCC’s cabinet member for Health, said the fall in teenage pregnancies had been the result of better education and support for young people, which had helped raise awareness of contraception options.

He added: “SCC is continuing to ensure that these services are available for young people and relies on the partnership work between health, education, social care and youth services.

“These figures are positive for Suffolk but we know there is still work within the most at risk areas such as Ipswich and Lowestoft.”

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