Teen conception rates steadily reducing
12 March 2012

National figures issued recently (February 28, 2012) by the Office of National Statistics highlight a steady reduction in teenage conception rates across the area.

The rate in Hampshire decreased in 2010 from the rate in 2009 and has seen a drop of 29.8% since 1998. Whilst this change is encouraging there are still areas in Hampshire with higher rates and work to tackle this includes establishing Contraception and Sexual Health (CASH) outreach services in most of the Further Education Colleges in the county and investing in CASH outreach services in Rushmoor, Gosport and Havant. Additional services are also being provided in Andover and Eastleigh as these areas have seen a rise in the teenage conception rate and in the New Forest where there has been limited access for young people to these services.

The rate in Portsmouthalso decreased in 2010 from the rate in 2009 and has seen a drop of 24% since 1998. The positive relationships and initiatives developed with schools and partners have been instrumental in reducing the rate. These initiatives include working with those at risk of teenage pregnancy and improving access to sexual health services. One example is the Peer Educators who have played an important role in getting the message across to young people on risk taking behaviours which lead to unwanted pregnancies. Jolene Brazier, one of the Peer Educators, has been shortlisted for the JLS Young Person of the Year, National Sexual Health Brook Awards in recognition of the impact of her work with young people.

Southampton has kept the rate of reduction achieved in 2009 and has seen a drop of 19.2% since 1998. Maintaining the 2009 reduction suggests that local services are starting to make a difference. National evidence from the Teenage Pregnancy Unit suggests that it can take at least three to five years to achieve cultural change and that providing school-based services, working with a whole school community to promote positive relationships, responsible sexual health and improved access to services all make a difference to the choices made by young people.

The Isle of Wight has seen a small increase in the rate since 2009 but overall has seen a drop of 14.9% since 1998. The rate on the Island continues to be below rate for England showing a downward trend over time. The Isle of Wight has a integrated sexual health service which works closely with local schools, communities and providers of young peoples services in order that young people are able to access consistent and high quality sexual health information to support decision making around responsible sexual relationships.

A number of highly successful drop-in clinics for under 25 year olds at local GP surgeries have been established. In addition there is a specialist sexual health outreach nurse works with those young people considered most at risk and vulnerable to poor sexual health outcomes.

“The local councils and NHS have worked together to develop and implement strategies that will tackle this issue and it is encouraging to see that the teenage conception rates across the area are steadily decreasing as it suggests that the different services and projects that have been put in place are starting to have an impact,” said Dr Andrew Mortimore, on behalf of the Directors of Public Health for the Southampton, Hampshire, Isle of Wight and Portsmouth PCT Cluster. “However, whilst the latest rates are encouraging we cannot be complacent as we have a long way to go to reduce them further and help young people to avoid an unplanned pregnancy. Our priorities include ensuring young people in our areas of highest need and rural communities with limited access across the county are able to get the support and advice they need from outreach services. 

“Understanding the issues faced by young people and providing advice and support in a way that they will use is crucial and a key point of our work,” explained Dr Mortimore. “All of our work has a strong emphasis on ensuring the services and support provided for young people is led by specially trained workers who are able to discuss relationships and signpost young people to local services that are appropriate for them.”

Highlights for work across the area included developing Sex and Relationships Education Programmes in secondary schools; working closely with secondary schools to identify girls at risk of becoming pregnant  to encourage positive behaviour change; improving access to contraception through school, college, GP practices and community clinics; investing in CASH outreach services and delivering Speakeasy courses aimed at helping parents talk to their children about a range of sensitive issues including sexual health. We have also developed the use of social media to promote sexual health messages to young people including promoting the Get it on website (www.getiton.nhs.uk) which provides information about having safe sex and details of local CASH and GP services.

 Notes 

  1. The following table gives the rate of conception per 1,000 women aged 15 to 17 years for the last three years and the baseline in 1998 for each PCT and England. 

PCT

1998

2008

2009

2010

% change in rate from 1998 to 2010

NHS Southampton

60.9

51.6

49.2

49.2

-19.2%

NHS Hampshire

35.9

34.0

28.9

25.2

-29.8%

NHS Isle of Wight

40.2

37.2

30.4

34.2

-14.9%

NHS Portsmouth

57.0

45.4

50.0

43.3

-24.0%

England

46.6

40.5

38.2

35.4

-24.0%

The information below highlights the rates for 1998/00, when the data was first collected and then 2007/09 and 2008/10. It also gives the percentage changes for the rates comparing the latest data (2008/10) to the data for the previous period (2007/09) and comparing the latest data (2008/10) to the first period of data (1998/00). 

PCT

Rate for 1998/00

Rate for 2007/09

Rate for 2008/10

% change in rate from 1998/00 and 2008/10

% change in rate from 2007/09 and 2008/10

NHS Southampton

58.9

49.9

50.0

-15.1%

+0.02%

NHS Hampshire

33.3

31.5

29.4

-11.7%

-6.7%

NHS Isle of Wight

41.1

34.3

33.9

-17.5%

-1.2%

NHS Portsmouth

50.4

51.1

46.3

-8.1%

-9.4%

England

45.0

40.2

38.1

-15.3%

-5.2%

The Office of National Statistics report is available online at www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/vsob1/conception-statistics--england-and-wales/2010/index.html

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