It has been calculated that teenage pregnancy rates have been slashed by a half in under a decade, according to new figures published on Tuesday.
The huge decline occurred over a period of 8 years say the Office for National Statistics (ONS), with there being 20,351 conceptions during 2015 in girls under 18 – a 10% drop from the previous year. This worked out at 21 girls within every 1,000 falling pregnant in 2015 that were aged between 15 and 17.
However, in 2007 there was a pregnancy rate of 41.6 per 1,000 girls, demonstrating a remarkable decline of almost a half in less than 10 years.
A not too dissimilar pattern was indeed evident in younger girls, with pregnancies for 13 to 15-year-olds declining from 8.1 in every 1,000 to 3.1 over the same timeframe.
When comparable records first started back in 1969 there were 45,495 conceptions in girls under 18, working out at a rate of 47.1 pregnancies per 1,000 girls under the age of 18.
The drop in young girls falling pregnant has been linked with an emergence of the so-called ‘sensible generation’, which is seeing teens actually begin to shun dangerous habits such as smoking, drinking and drugs.
Moreover, the figures coincide with a huge rise in social media platforms like such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, which many say have aided in this new found behavioural transformation in young people.
ONS believe it is boosted sex education programmes and better access to contraception which also mat be factors behind the decline in pregnancies.
They added that a ‘shift in aspiration of young women towards education’, i.e. more girls wanting a better education and ultimately a better job, plus the stigma surrounding teenage pregnancy could have helped to change youngsters’ attitude towards their sexual behaviour.
Overall, the total number of teen pregnancies across England and Wales during 2015 stood at 20,351 – representing the lowest annual figure of its kind since records began in 1969. This was an impressive reduction from the 22,653 in 2014.
This came after the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence introduced guidelines in 2014 saying that schools should offer free morning-after pills to teenage girls, including those under the age of consent, in a bid to curb the number of youngsters becoming pregnant.
Professor David Paton, of Nottingham University, said the fall had come despite recent cuts by local authorities to contraception services. “The sharp decline … is due in part to the improvements we have seen to schools and which have provided young people with opportunities that give them the incentive to avoid early pregnancy,” he said.
“Teen pregnancy rates have also gone down very significantly in most western countries including some like Ireland where contraception for underage youngsters is much harder to access than in England.
“The root cause appears to have been a more general decrease in risk-taking behaviour amongst young people with lower rates of drug taking, smoking and alcohol use.”