UK Teenage Pregnancy at Lowest Levels Since 1969

The United Kingdom is making significant headway when it comes to the reduction in the number of teenage pregnancies across England and Wales. According to data published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), teen pregnancies have dipped to the lowest level since 1969, a year when records began.

ONS figures suggest the under-18 conception rate is now 24.5 per thousand women, down from 27.9 per thousand the year prior, which represents a drop of 13 percent. Also, under-16 pregnancies has continued to decrease, while the number of abortions for the under-18 category has tumbled 18 percent.

In addition, the conception rate for women over the age of 35 has been steadily rising, primarily due to the fact that women are waiting longer to start their families because of a higher life expectancy, personal financial situation, the housing market and career prospects.

teen pregnancy

On a historical level, the UK has been known as having one of the greatest teenage pregnancy and abortion rates in Western Europe. Despite these gains, the UK is still lagging behind other countries in the continent’s region – the UK had lower teenage pregnancy rates than only three other nations in the European Union: Bulgaria, Romania and Slovenia, BBC News reports.

Why has the UK been successful in this area? Over the past decade, the federal government implemented a 10-year teenage pregnancy strategy, which consisted of enhanced sexual education and greater access to contraception. Also, the social stigma of teenage pregnancies and the paucity of careers have been associated with the latest trend.

Experts warn, however, that the good news could lead to complacency on the part of the government. Harry Walker, a policy manager and spokesperson for the sexual health charity the FPA, says these positive results have been because of the decade-long strategy, but any type of slowdown will reverse these results.

“We are no doubt still seeing the lasting effects of the government’s 10-year teenage pregnancy strategy,” Walker said in a statement. “But the danger with getting good news year on year is that people start to take their eye off the ball and forget that the figures we are seeing today are the result of a complex series of actions over a number of years by professionals at a national and local level. Any complacency now and we will see a knock-on effect in years to come.”

In the United States, the prevalence of teenage pregnancies has been dropping in recent years.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that more than 300,000 babies were born to women between 15 and 19 years of age in 2012, which represents a birth rate of 29.4 per 1,000 women in this teen group. This is a record low, and health officials say it’s because teens are less sexual active than ever before. For those who are sexually active, reports suggest many of them are using birth control than at any other time in history.

When looking at the numbers, the individuals more likely to get pregnant at a young age Hispanics, blacks and Native Americans. The demographic that is the least likely to report pregnancy in their teen years is Asian.

The CDC warned that the statistics suggest teen pregnancy and childbirth cost the taxpayers $9.4 billion a year because of higher incarceration rates for children of teen parents, a loss of educational attainment and foster care. Furthermore, teen pregnancies lead to high school dropouts, increased unemployment and greater health problems.

“These effects remain for the teen mother and her child even after adjusting for those factors that increased the teenager’s risk for pregnancy, such as growing up in poverty, having parents with low levels of education, growing up in a single-parent family, and having poor performance in school,” the CDC stated in its report on teen pregnancies.