16th April, 2019

FPA is pleased to see that teenage pregnancy rates have continued to fall. There were 16,740 teen pregnancies across England and Wales in 2017, or 17.9 for every 1,000 women under the age of 18, with rates in England now 61.8% lower than in 1998.

Teenage pregnancy rates have consistently fallen over the last 10 years thanks to multi-pronged approaches including better relationships and sex education in schools, more information on a wider range of contraception, and schemes like the C-Card allowing young people access to free condoms.

However, the difference between certain areas is quite startling and shows that we need further investment in reproductive and sexual health services in low income areas. In Middlesbrough the under 18 pregnancy rate in 2017 was 43.8 for every 1,000 women, up from a rate of 36.5 in 2016, and more than twice as high as the national average.

These differences are clear even within a few miles. This is evidenced by the number of under 18 conceptions in affluent London borough Kensington and Chelsea with just 16 pregnancies, but 137 pregnancies in Croydon and 135 in Enfield.

Although teen pregnancy rates continue to fall, inequality has grown at a similarly steady pace. It is essential that reproductive and sexual health services are properly funded to meet the needs of the public and increase access to contraception, alongside inclusive relationships and sex education that can help to prevent unplanned pregnancies.