Teenage pregnancy rates ‘still too high’

TEENAGE pregnancy rates for Hartlepool are still “far too high” despite the inroads made by health chiefs.

New statistics show that under-18 conception rates for the town are well above both the national and regional average.

They show the rate for Hartlepool in 2009 was 57.3 per 1,000 women, compared to 38.2 for the UK and 46.9 for the North-East.

The town’s rate was a 24.2 per cent improvement from the 1998 high of 75.6 but Steve Wallace, the chairman of NHS Hartlepool, said: “It is still far too high.”

Writing in today’s Mail2, he told how teenagers were hurting their own chances of success if they were getting pregnant at a young age.

He said: “If our young people don’t have ambition, how can our town have ambition for the future?”

Numerous initiatives are under way to keep tackling the problem.

They include improved access to contraception and sexual health services and free emergency contraception available from community pharmacies, as well as a confidential

advice service.

There’s also both one-to-one and group support available for young parents to help cut rates of second pregnancies.

But Mr Wallace added: “One reason for teenage pregnancies is risk-taking behaviour such as drugs and drinking to excess. New developments include tackling such behaviour and contacting young people early who we think may be at high risk.

“But one lesson we have had to learn is that teenage pregnancies are my no means all unwanted. We all hear stories about teenagers who see a baby as a springboard to a ‘council’ flat, and this is sometimes, sadly, true.

“But just as having a teenage mam can hurt a child’s life-chances, teenagers are hurting their own chances of doing well.”

He urged any teenagers wanting advice on preventing pregnancy to contact Deborah Gibbin, teenage pregnancy co-ordinator for NHS Hartlepool, on (01429) 284372, or the Teenage Pregnancy Support Service on 07818 065972.

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