Teenage pregnancy rate in Peterborough falls to lowest level for two years

Dr Henrietta Ewart, interim director for public health. Photo supplied
Dr Henrietta Ewart, interim director for public health. Photo supplied
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Improved sex education in Peterborough has been credited with reducing the number of teenage pregnancies in the city.

New figures show that for every thousand pregnancies in the city, girls aged 15 to 17 accounted for 28.1.

The statistics relate to the last quarter of 2012 and for the same period in 2011, the number stood at 34.7 - and were even higher earlier in 2012 when it reached 43, one of the highest rates in the country.

Dr Henrietta Ewart, interim director of public health for Peterborough City Council, said: “We want young people to have the knowledge and confidence to delay sex until they are ready, and to be able to make informed and healthy choices.

“Prevention is key and we work closely with local health services, schools, colleges and charitable organisations to deliver this message.

“We commission contraceptive and sexual health services to deliver dedicated young people’s clinics across the city in conjunction with alcohol services.

“These clinics provide information and advice in a confidential setting.

“The staff from these clinics also deliver sexual health promotion activities in schools and colleges.”

Dr Ewart praised the work carried out by Peterborough Regional College (PRC) with youngsters, including young mums.

Despite the reduction in the city, the rate is still higher than the English average, which stands at 26.3.

Peterborough MP Stewart Jackson said more work still needed to be done.

He said: “I warmly welcome these figures and they are clearly a big improvement. Peterborough’s teenage pregnancy rate is still too high but we need to keep focusing on education, parental support and using positive role models. The one trick pony of all forms of sex education from a young age alone is not the answer.”

North West Cambridgeshire MP Shailesh Vara said: “Clearly there has been a lot of hard work done to get the message out, and it has been very successful.”

Eleanor Allenby, Peterborough Regional College nurse, said: “I work with a team of youth workers, and the NHS contraception and sexual health team.

“We can do pregnancy tests, distribute condoms and give help and advice to people about sexual health and pregnancy.

“Pregnancy at a young age can affect people’s education, so it is pleasing to see the number reduced. Young people are much more open about sexual health today, even compared to five years ago.

“It is much easier for them to talk about the issues involved, and they have more knowledge about the subject.”

Factfile on statistics

The number of teenage pregnancies fell across Cambridgeshire as well as in Peterborough, according to figures from the Office of National Statistics.

In the county there was a rate of 17.7 teenage pregnancies in every thousand in the final quarter of 2012, compared to 20.4 the previous year.

Val Thomas, consultant in public health at Cambridgeshire County Council, said: “Teenage pregnancy and parenthood involves complex factors including poverty, low educational attainment, mental health and aspiration. We will be continuing to work with a range of partners to ensure we target the most vulnerable in our communities to ensure that this improvement is maintained.”

Across Lincolnshire, the rate fell from 29.8 to 24.8 in the same period.

The national rate for England and Wales has been falling for a number of months, with the figure at the start of 2011 standing at 31.6, but falling to 26.1 by September 2012.

There was a slight rise in the final quarter of the year, to 26.4.

The rate for England alone stands at 26.3.

Elsewhere: The Guardian - Data blog - New record lows in teen pregnancy rate

Related link: ’Teenage pregnancy prevention training’ on Peterborough City Council website