Pregnancy rates slashed

NEW figures reveal the number of teenage pregnancies in Hartlepool has been slashed by nearly a third in a year – to the delight of health chiefs.

The number aged 15-17 becoming pregnant fell from 55.5 per 1,000 females in 2010 to 37.7 per 1,000 in 2011, a fall of 32.1 per cent. Since 1998 the overall reduction is 53.6 per cent.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics also reveal Hartlepool is now below the North-East conception rate of 38.4 per 1,000 females aged 15-17 and is falling towards the national rate of 30.7.

Louise Wallace, the town’s director of public health, said: “This is a massive reduction in teenage pregnancies in Hartlepool and is the product of years of work by many organisations across the town.

“I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate everyone who has contributed to this fantastic result.

“It’s a combination of identifying young people who are most at risk, providing good quality relationship and sex education, both in and out of school, and ensuring that they have access to friendly contraception and sexual health services.

“It’s also about showing them that they do have a choice and that early motherhood – and the many problems which it can bring – is not the only outcome open to them.

“We must remain vigilant and continue to do everything we can to build on this success and keep driving down teenage pregnancy rates in Hartlepool.”

Organisations involved in tackling teenage pregnancy include Hartlepool Borough Council’s health teams, Integrated Youth Support Service and Families Information and Support Hub (FISH) plus schools, the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust and NHS Hartlepool plus youth as well as voluntary groups.

Officials say the key is to identify young people in the 13 to 19 age group who are most at risk of teenage pregnancy and to intervene as early as possible to give them sex and relationship advice.

Also contraception and sexual health services are available to young people at the town’s One Life Hartlepool medical centre, in Park Road.

There is also the ‘C-Card’ scheme, under which 13 to 25 year-olds who sign up, carry a card which entitles them to receive free condoms while free emergency contraception is also available to them.

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