Teenage pregnancy figures among highest in region

Hartlepool has the second highest conception rate in the North East.
Hartlepool has the second highest conception rate in the North East.

Hartlepool has the second highest teenage conception rate in the North East, according to new figures.

Statistics from the Office of National Statistics show that, in 2016, Hartlepool had a conception rate of 34.9 per 1,000 women under the age of 18 - with 58 conceptions.

That number which has fallen from the 62 conceptions in 2015.

That year the conception rate was 35.9 per 1,000 women under 18.

Both rates have fallen significantly since 1998, when there were 134 conceptions - 75.6 per 1,000 women in the age group.

Despite this, the North East continues to have the highest rates in the country.

Middlesbrough had the highest rate, at 36.5 per 1,000, followed by Hartlepool, and then Sunderland which stands at 31.9 per 1,000 women.

Sexual health charity FPA has welcomed the drop in teen pregnancies, but expressed concern that the achievement is being jeopardised by cuts to sexual health services that could mean these figures start reversing.

Natika H Halil, chief executive of the sexual health charity FPA, said: “This dramatic fall in teenage pregnancy rates in the North East is thanks to a great deal of hard work from health and education professionals, along with the investment in services that we saw during the Teenage Pregnancy Strategy that ended in 2010.

“That’s why it’s so concerning that local authorities in the North East are facing such massive cuts to their public health budget, which can then lead to sexual health services closing, or have their staff and funding reduced.

“These cuts could mean that we see teenage pregnancy rates start to rise again in the coming years.”

Dr Paul Edmondson-Jones, interim director of Public Health at Hartlepool Borough Council, said the town has seen significant improvements in the under 18 conception rate.

He said: “Reducing teenage pregnancy is a complex issue which requires a sustained and concerted effort of close partnership working and effective education.

“Since 2010, the town has seen significant improvements in the under 18 conception rate, which is testament to the excellent work by partners and organisations taking place across the borough.

“Both the ongoing delivery of the council’s early intervention strategy ‘A Better Childhood in Hartlepool’ and our commissioned sexual health services continue to play a key role in reducing the rate, by supporting young people to make informed choices about contraception and their sexual health.”