Hartlepool teenage pregnancy rate more than double national average, new figures reveal
The teenage pregnancy rate in Hartlepool is more than double the average for England.
The British Pregnancy Advisory Service said the UK had seen a dramatic decline in teenagers becoming pregnant over the last two decades, but warned cuts to local health budgets could be fuelling regional disparities.
New Office for National Statistics data shows that 40 per 100,000 women aged 15 to 17 got pregnant in the three months to March 2018, the latest period for which data is available.
The rate is more than twice the England average of 17 in 100,000 during the same period.
A BPAS spokesperson said the role of council-run sexual health services in preventing teenage pregnancy should not be underestimated.
“We know that public health budgets have faced deep cuts in recent years, with over a third of local authorities reducing, or planning to reduce, their contraceptive services since 2015,” they said.
“It is really important that services are maintained so that regional variations, which will be due to complex factors, do not become more pronounced.”
Teenage pregnancy has fallen in Hartlepool in recent years, but the pace of change has been slower than across England as a whole.
There were 15 pregnancies in Hartlepool in the first three months of 2018, compared to 19 in 2011 – a fall of 21 per cent.
Across England, the number of pregnancies fel over the same period, from 7,373 to 3,678.
The BPAS spokesperson added: “In the UK we have seen a dramatic decline in teen pregnancy rates over the last two decades, and these latest ONS figures are very much in keeping with this long-term trend.
“This decline is often attributed to government strategies such as improved sex education and contraception provision, which are certainly important factors, but our research also indicates that shifts in young people’s attitudes and lifestyles have played a significant role.
“Increased use of social media among young people and more focus on their family life and future careers, as well as a decline in alcohol consumption, have all contributed to the fall in teen pregnancies.”