This site is intended for health professionals only

Teenage pregnancies "could rise"

The number of teenage girls becoming pregnant will escalate unless action is taken by the government, experts have warned.

Progress has been made tackling the issue over the last 10 years and the under-18 conception rate is at its lowest level for over 20 years, according to the Teenage Pregnancy Independent Advisory Group (TPIAG).

But the group said in the same period there have been "missed opportunities and disappointments", adding that the number of girls falling pregnant in England is still "unacceptably high".

The TPIAG published its final report after 10 years of overseeing attempts to reduce the teenage pregnancy rate.

The latest figures for England from 2008 showed there were 38,750 conceptions among under-18s, half of which ended in abortion.

In 1999, Labour pledged to halve teenage pregnancy rates among under-18s in England by 2010, but that target was missed.

Gill Frances, chairman of the TPIAG, said: "We warn government that teenage pregnancy rates will rise again unless there is sustained commitment and investment in contraceptive services, along with better sex and relationships education.

"The challenge for local areas is to maintain the current downward trend in teenage pregnancy during major reorganisation in the NHS, the removal of targets and at a time of reduced public spending.

"It is truly shocking to hear about the current level of disinvestment, the loss of posts and projects and closure of contraceptive services."

The report said contraception services save the NHS £11 for every £1 invested, and warns that bills will be far higher if the issue is neglected.

Copyright © Press Association 2010