Teenage pregnancies in England have fallen to a record low, official figures show.
New figures from Public Health England (PHE) show the conception rate among under 18 year olds dropped by 10% to 27.7 per 1000 in 2012, an all-time low for England.
Published today by the Office of National Statistics, the number of under 18 conceptions also fell, by 10% to 26,157, as did under 16 conceptions (5,131).
Since 1998, the under 18 conception rate has decreased by 41% – with reductions of up to 64% in some places in England during this period.
However, conception rates in some areas nearly 90% higher than the England average.
Professor Kevin Fenton, PHE health and wellbeing director, said: “Today’s data show us high conception rates are not inevitable, if young people receive the right support. Teenage pregnancy and early motherhood can be associated with poor educational achievement, poor physical and mental health, social isolation and poverty, so it is vital this downward trend is continued.
“PHE is committed to supporting local government and partners to further reduce under 18 and under 16 conceptions, and provide support for young parents, as an important route to tackling inequalities, reducing child poverty and improving public health.”
Alison Hadley, teenage pregnancy knowledge exchange director at the University of Bedfordshire, and PHE advisor on this issue, said: "Continued investment and dedication over the last ten years has paid real dividends but the England under 18 conception rate remains higher than other Western European countries.
“We need to find ways to both sustain the significant reductions we've made and accelerate progress. Evidence and lessons from local areas shows us young people need comprehensive sex and relationship education in and out of school, easy access to young people-centred contraceptive and sexual health services, and targeted support for those most at risk.
“Progress needs to be everybody's business with strong local leadership and all practitioners and services in touch with young people supporting them to make informed choices.”