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Conception and abortion figures

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conception, abortion, SRE, the Lancet, teenage pregnanciesAccess to a full range of reversible contraception and sexual health services is ‘critical’.

A strategy to lower the rate of teenage pregnancies in England has seen the numbers halved since it was launched in 2000, according to a new study published in The Lancet.

Conception rates in women younger than 18 years fell by 51 per cent between 1998 and 2014. The rate had declined steadily from its peak in 1996 to 1998 and more rapidly from 2007 onwards, according to the study findings.

The 10-year Teenage Pregnancy Strategy was launched in 2000 in England to reduce conceptions in women younger than 18 years and social exclusion in young parents.

The study team used routinely collected data and data from Britain’s National Surveys of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal) to examine progress towards the strategy’s goals.

The team found that a sustained, multifaceted policy intervention involving health and education agencies, alongside other social and educational changes, has probably contributed to a substantial and accelerating decline in conceptions in women younger than 18 years in England since the late 1990s.

Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) spokesperson and chair of the British Fertility Society Professor Adam Balen said: ‘We welcome this positive news that the rates of teenage pregnancy have halved since 1999, particularly in areas with the highest deprivation.

‘It is particularly promising that the sustained efforts on access to education and reliable contraception have been key to this achievement.

He added that the most recent data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that the under-18 conception rates for 2014 was the lowest since 1969 at 22.9 conceptions per thousand women aged 15 to 17.

However, he said that further reductions are still needed to bring them in line with other high-income countries, such as Scandinavia and the Netherlands.

‘Sex and Relationships Education plays a vital role in providing young people with skills and information to negotiate relationships, protect their sexual health and prevent unplanned pregnancy.

‘It is just as important not to lose sight of the other aspects of good sexual healthcare, crucially, the need for better STI prevention and access to safe abortion care.

‘Access to a full range of reversible contraception and sexual health services remains critical to improving young people’s health and wellbeing.’

To read the study, click here.

There has been very slight rise in the number of abortions in England and Wales, according to the latest statistics released by the Department of Health recently.

The 2015 figures show that 185,824 abortions to residents of England and Wales took place.

The abortions to residents represents a rate of 16 per 1000 women, aged 15 to 44. This is a 0.6 per cent rise on the 2014 figure of 15.9 per 1000 women and 6.4 per cent lower than in 2005.

The statistics show that the abortion rate was highest for women aged 21, at 28.7 per 1000 women. The highest rate in the previous year had been 22 year-olds at 28.5 per 1000.

The under-16 and under-18 abortion rates were both lower than in 2014. Last year, the under-16 rate was 2 per 1000 individuals compared to 2.5 in 2014.

The under-18 rate was 9.9 per 1000, down from 11.1 per 1000 women the previous year.

The figures also showed that 92 per cent of abortions were carried out at under 13 weeks’ gestation and 80 per cent were at under 10 weeks.

Two per cent of abortions were carried out because of the risk that the child would be born ‘seriously handicapped’.

To read this report, click here.

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