1. ITV Report

Teenage pregnancy rate falls to lowest level on record

Teenage pregnancies are at their lowest level since records began. Credit: PA

The teenage pregnancy rate in England and Wales has fallen to its lowest level on record.

Per 1,000 girls aged under-18 the conception rate was 21 in 2015, or 20,351 conceptions overall, a 10% decrease on the previous year.

Records began in 1969, when the under-18 conception rate was 47.1 conceptions per 1,000 girls, or 45,495 teenage pregnancies.

The highest recorded year was 1971 when there were 54.9 conceptions per 1,000 girls.

The conception rate takes into account all registered births and abortion notifications.

The latest figures were released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) who said there could be a number of figures behind the declining figures, including a shift in aspirations of young women towards education, a stigma associated with being a teenage mother, better sex education and improved access to contraceptives.

Better sex education and access to contraceptives were cited as among the reasons behind the decline. Credit: PA

Blackpool had the highest rate of under-18 pregnancies, with 43.8 girls per 1,000 getting pregnant.

Following Blackpool, Burnley, with a rate of 41 per 1,000 and Kingston upon Hull with a rate of 38.4 per 1,000 were the next highest.

While the number of teenage conceptions declined, the number across all age groups rose slightly.

In 2015, the estimated number of conceptions in England and Wales rose by 0.7% to 876,934, from 871,038 the year before.

Since 1998 under-18 conception rates have declined by 55%, while they have risen by 34% for women aged 30 and over.

The figures also show that most babies - 57% - are conceived outside of marriage.

Some 57% of babies are now conceived outside of marriage. Credit: PA

During 2015, 69% of conceptions outside marriage or civil partnership resulted "in a maternity", compared with 92% of conceptions within marriage or civil partnership.

The ONS also revealed that the percentage of legal abortions varied by age group, with girls under 16 having the highest rate, with 60% of pregnancies ending in abortion.

The group with the lowest level of abortions was women aged 30 to 34, at 14%.

Overall, 21.2% of conceptions led to abortion.

Izzi Seccombe, chairwoman of the Local Government Association's community and wellbeing board, said: "The Government's decision to make sex and relationships education compulsory in schools will help young people to develop healthy relationships, delay early pregnancy, and look after their sexual health.

"However, we are concerned that all this good work could be put at risk by the false economy of government cuts to councils' public health funding, and that the drop in teenage conception rates will be even harder to sustain.

"Getting it right on teenage pregnancy will not only make a difference to individual lives, it will help narrow inequalities and reduce long-term demand on health and social care services."