Teenage pregnancy rate drops in Newham, ONS figures show

A home pregnancy test, and its instructions. Picture: DOMINIC LIPINSKI

A home pregnancy test, and its instructions. Picture: DOMINIC LIPINSKI - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Fewer under 18s in the borough are getting pregnant, new data reveals.

New Office for National Statistics (ONS) data shows 17 in every 1,000 women aged between 15 and 17 became pregnant in Newham in 2017, compared with 27 six years earlier.

Sexual health experts put the trend down to better access to contraceptives, and a shift in priorities among a younger generation more focused on their professional careers.

Dr Vanessa Apea, sexual health consultant at Barts Health NHS Trust said: “We welcome the news that fewer young people in Newham are experiencing unplanned pregnancies.

“The hard work doesn’t stop here. We have recently, alongside our partners, expanded access and availability to sexual health advice and testing across east London, including having experts on hand to explain the benefits of using long acting reversible contraception.”

Satbinder Sanghera, director of partnerships and governance at Newham Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “These latest figures are great news and are the result of a significant journey that Newham CCG has made over the last 20 years, based on a collaborative, concerted approach.”

Cllr Susan Masters, cabinet member for health and adult social care, said reductions in women under 18 becoming pregnant were due to a number of things, including improvements to education, and economic factors.

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The council launched an integrated STI testing, treatment and contraception service in December 2017 making services more accessible.

It reported an increase in the uptake of long acting reversible contraception by 30 per cent.

In 2017, there were 97 pregnancies among women aged 15 to 17 in Newham.

Of those, 62 per cent ended in an abortion, the ONS said.

Katherine O’Brien, from the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, said: “Young people today are very much focused on their education and determined to succeed in a challenging economic environment. They feel that having a child at this stage will be disruptive to their life goals.”

Across England and Wales, there were 847,204 conceptions among women of all ages, of which 16,740 were aged between 15 to 17.

Natika Halil, chief executive of sexual health charity FPA, put the fall down to hard work from health and education professionals.

She said: “That’s why it’s so concerning to see the cuts to sexual health services across the country, which could so easily undermine this hard-won achievement.”