Teenage pregnancy

Teenage pregnancy

Introduction 

Teenage pregnancy refers to conceptions for people aged under 18 years old. About three quarters of these are unplanned and about half end in an abortion (Department for Children, Schools and Families, 2010). For pregnancies that end in birth there are likely to be poor outcomes for both the mother and her child. 


Teenage parents are prone to poor antenatal health, more at risk of poor mental health, more likely to smoke, less likely to breastfeed and more likely not to be in education, employment or training (NEET). They are more likely to end up as single parents and/or bring up their children in poverty.


Babies born to teenage mothers are more likely to have lower birth weight and are more likely to die in infancy. They are also more likely to become teenage parents themselves.

National Strategies


The Social Exclusion Unit published a report in 1999, which highlighted high teenage pregnancy rates in England and the adverse outcomes associated with teenage pregnancy you can view the report by visiting the National archives website. This confirmed teenage pregnancy as a major health issue (Local Government Association, 2013). 

 

The report led to a 10 year Teenage Pregnancy Strategy with a target of reducing teenage pregnancy by half by 2010. In April 2013, the Coalition Government launched a Framework for Sexual Health Improvement in England, which sets out the ambition to continue to reduce the under 18 conception rates.


The Teenage Pregnancy Strategy ended in 2010 but the Public Health Outcomes Framework (PHOF) 2013 to 2016 includes ‘under 18 teenage conception rate’ as one of three sexual health indicators. Further reductions in teenage pregnancy, and improved support for young parents, also contributes to a number of other indicators in the PHOF that disproportionately affect teenage parents and their children.


In April 2013, the Coalition Government launched a Framework for Sexual Health Improvement in England, which sets out the ambition to continue to reduce the under 18 conception rates. National Teenage Pregnancy Midwifery Networks have been set up by the Government to improve teenage pregnancy outcomes.


Local Strategies

Since April 2013 Wokingham Borough Council has taken over the commissioning of contraception and sexual health services, including the testing and treatment of sexual transmitted infections (except HIV testing which is commissioned by NHS England). These services are commissioned jointly by the Public Health teams in Berkshire West.


Local Service Provision:

  • Wokingham Borough Council commission a specialist Young Person Sexual Health Worker who works in schools and the community offering Health Zones in schools, PSHE sessions in schools, drop in sessions and works across sexual health services including Juice Points.

  • Contraception services are available to young people in a range of settings including GPs, sexual health clinics and pharmacies (for access to Emergency Hormonal Contraception free of charge).  For further information visit The Royal Berkshire Hospital's sexual health website page.

  • Juice Points offer free and confidential advice to young people.  Drop-in centres are available in Woodley and Wokingham For further information visit  the Royal Berkshire hospital's sexual health website page.

  • Dedicated outreach contraception nurses for young people For further information visit  the Royal Berkshire hospital's sexual health website page.

  • Family Nurse Partnership is a home visiting programme for first time young mothers under 19 years of age.  The partnership aims to enable young mothers to have a healthy pregnancy, improve their child’s health and development and plan for their future.  For further information visit the Family Nurse Partnership website.

  • Abortion Services – termination of pregnancy services are provided BPS.  The nearest main centre is in Reading.  For further information visit the British Pregnancy Advisory Service.

  • Children’s Centres actively support young parents, with health visitors encouraging new parents to access their services.

  • Targeted Youth Service works directly on a one-to-one basis with young people who are in the greatest need, enabling our youth workers to give them tailored and personal support.

Teenage conceptions are linked to a number of factors, such as living in deprived or disadvantaged circumstances. Social inequality and exclusion are both risk factors for, and consequences of, teenage conceptions. Alcohol and substance abuse have also been linked in to teenage/unwanted pregnancy. 

The Framework for Sexual Health Improvement in England by the Department of Health in 2013 states that the strongest empirical evidence for ways to prevent teenage conceptions are high-quality education about relationships and sex and access to and correct use of effective contraception.

Teenage pregnancy data is collected for under 16 and under 18 conception rates.


Figure 1 shows a trend analysis for the number of conceptions to under 18 year olds. This is per 1,000 females aged under 18 and covers a 16 year period from 1998 to 2013 (with projected rates to 2020 included).  The conception rate has generally decreased over this time period in the Wokingham Borough. Conception rates are lower than national and South East Region averages.


Figure 1: Conceptions per 1,000 female population aged under 18 (1998 to 2013) 

Under 18 conceptions

Figure 2 shows a trend analysis for the percentage of conceptions to under 18 year olds that result in an abortion. This covers a 16 year period from 1998 to 2013. The percentage of conceptions leading to abortion in the Wokingham Borough has fluctuated between 40-75% over this period, but this will be affected by the low figures.

 

Figure 2: Percentage of conceptions to under 18 years olds which result in abortion (1998 to 2013)

Under 18 abortions

There are fewer conceptions to under 16 year olds living in the Wokingham Borough than there are on average nationally and across the South East Region each year.  The Borough’s figures for 2009-2013 were too small to be published, while the 2008-10 figures indicated that 2.5 in every 1,000 13 to 15 year olds conceived each year. This compares to the national figures of 7.2 per 1,000 population in 2008-2010 and 6.1 per 1,000 population in 2010-12.  The percentage of conceptions to under 16 year olds that result in a termination is lower in the Wokingham Borough than the national and regional figures.

    

Conceptions table

Source: Conception Statistics, Office of National Statistics, 2013


This suggests around 15 live births per year to women under 18 living in the Wokingham area.

 

What is this telling us?


There remains a need to raise awareness on sexual health issues amongst young people.  

Unplanned teenage pregnancy disproportionately affects those young people living in the more deprived areas of the Borough.  Longitudinal studies evidence that children born to teenage mothers are more likely to continue to experience a range of poor outcomes later on in their life.

  

There is a requirement for continued high quality sex and relationship advice for young people that is confidential and accessible to them.  Particular consideration needs to be given to those from at risk groups including those from areas of deprivation, NEETs (Not in Education, Employment or Training), those excluded from schools and those in the youth justice system.

 

Local Commissioners and providers of services need to work in partnership to offer a fully integrated service provision across all pathways.