A government drive to cut the number of young girls falling pregnant seems to have had little effect after official figures suggested teenage conception rates could be on the rise.
For every 1,000 girls under the age of 18 in England and Wales, 42 fell pregnant in the 12 months to September 2007, according to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
The final figures for the last year have not been fully calculated, but government officials admitted the under-18s pregnancy rate was likely be higher than in 2006.
Figures for 2006 showed that 41 girls in every 1,000 fell pregnant in that year. The government has pledged to halve teenage pregnancy rates among girls under 18 by half by 2010. A 2004 target to cut the rates by 15% from the base year of 1988 was missed.
A spokesman for the Department for Children, Schools and Families said the final data for 2007 would not be published until February.
But he admitted it seemed likely that the 2007 under-18s conception rate would be slightly higher than the 2006 rate, adding: "As the vast majority of teenage pregnancies are unplanned, local authorities must continue to prioritise their teenage pregnancy strategies by making sure that the additional funding provided to primary care trusts is used to increase young people's uptake of effective contraception."
"What is it that makes us different from the rest of Europe? Why do other countries not have the same problem? Is it because to talk about sex in the UK is still rather taboo?" - Louise Medina, Lancashire