Data Reporter Ralph Blackburn shares this latest news as part of the OnTheWight’s collaboration with Press Association and Urbs Media. Ed
The rate of pregnancies among under 18s on the Isle of Wight has reduced by more than a third since records began, new figures show.
In 1998, when the Office for National Statistics first started compiling conception data by local authority, the pregnancy rate for young women aged between 15 and 17 was 40.2 per 1,000.
From 40.2 to 24.3 per thousand
By 2016, the year covered by the latest statistics, that figure had dropped to 24.2 per 1,000. This reduction was far less than some other parts of the country, which saw the conception rate more than halve.
Numerous local authorities across England and Wales saw under 18 pregnancy rates reach record lows. On the Isle of Wight the year with the lowest rate was 2015, with 17.3 per 1,000.
Hard work by health and education professionals
Natika Halil, chief executive of sexual health charity FPA, put the “fall in teenage pregnancy rates” down to hard work from health and education professionals, as well as the Teenage Pregnancy Strategy which ended in 2010.
“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, and mean that we see these results reverse in the coming years.
“Teenage pregnancy can be a result of many different factors, but we know it can be reduced by investing the right time, resources and expertise into services and education.
“This investment not only saves money in the long term, but also helps prevent the range of negative long-term educational, health and social outcomes that young parents and their children are more likely to experience.”
Increase in termination rates
In total, 55 young women under 18 became pregnant on the Isle of Wight in 2016. Of these women 23, or 42%, chose to have an abortion.
This rate has increased since 1998 from 37%.
The percentage of young mothers who chose to have an abortion was higher in the under 16 bracket.
53% of pregnant under 16s terminate
The statistics covering under 16s have been merged into three year periods, as the annual figures are very small.
They show that between 2014 and 2016 there were 21 underage pregnancies, with 52% choosing to have an abortion.
Ms Halil added:
“It’s important to remember that whether or not young people are sexually active, or choose to become parents, they should never face stigma or judgement.
“Pregnancy and parenthood can be a positive life choice for young people, and young parents deserve to get the support they need to make informed choices about their lives.
“This is support that only properly-funded services, alongside high-quality relationships and sex education, can provide.”
Lowest levels since records began
A Department of Health spokeswoman said that nationally “teenage pregnancies now stand at the lowest levels since records began”.
She added that across the country the government has “given local authorities more than £16 billion to spend on public health, including to improve access to sexual health services”.