Bristol welcomes dramatic decline in teenage pregnancies
The number of teenage pregnancies in Bristol has fallen for the fourth consecutive year, according to data from the Office of National Statistics released today (Tuesday 25 February).
Conceptions in girls aged under 18 in 2012 decreased by 14 per cent from 2011, while nationally the rate fell by 10 per cent.
In just the three years from 2009 to 2012, Bristol has achieved a dramatic decline of 40 per cent in the teenage pregnancy rate.
This decline marks ten years’ work in the city to reduce the number of under-18 conceptions. In the early 2000s, 1 in 20 women had conceived before their 18th birthday; now it’s around 1 in 50, with fewer than 1 in 200 being under 16.
Projects including early intervention work with vulnerable young people, easily accessible sexual health services and training for professionals have helped contribute to this reduction.
Bristol is also starting to see a reduction in second pregnancies in under-18s, thanks to specialist teenage pregnancy midwives and outreach workers. More than 90 per cent of young mothers are using contraception following contact with them.
Assistant Mayor for Health Cllr Barbara Janke said:
“Young people in Bristol are now growing up with established projects and advice services to help reduce teenage pregnancies.
“Friendly and expert help available via schools, GPs and youth services means that young people have easy access to a professional who can talk with them about sex and relationships. This service is developing all the time to meet new challenges such as easy access to pornography and the pressure to grow up quickly.
“Bristol should be proud that, over the last ten years of working in partnership, we have managed to achieve this reduction.”
One programme that has been used to help build self-esteem among young people in Southmead is now being rolled out across the city. ‘VIP Me’ works with small groups of young women who may have been displaying risky behaviour to discuss their opportunities in life and look at ways of changing their behaviour.
Bristol City Council Young People’s Public Health Manager Anne Colquhoun said:
“We are really pleased that the numbers of under-18 conceptions continues to decline. This is because of the continued and dedicated work of a lot of people and projects.
We know that reducing teenage pregnancy is difficult, but research tells us that ensuring that sexual health advice and support services are easily accessible, improving sex education and targeting those most at risk are the key elements. These are the things that we’ve worked hard to improve. It takes time to achieve results but it’s fantastic to see the trend declining once more.
“It is also important to remember that when young women become mothers, there is a lot of support available for them, including specialist midwives, health visitors, housing support and The Meriton (school), which do a fantastic job in supporting them and their babies in order to achieve the best possible outcome for all.”