Data / Journalism

Data: Teenage pregnancies in England and Wales at lowest level since 1969

Conceptions by under-18s are at the lowest level since 1969, new data released today by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveals.

The number of conceptions by under-18s in 2012 stands at 27.9 conceptions per 1,000 women. This means that in total there were 27,834 conceptions by under-18s in 2012. Let’s look at how this compares to previous years:

Conception Rate

The change in conception rate per 1,000 women aged under-18 from 1998 to 2012. Interactive version available here.

This graph, looking at the number of conceptions by under-18s, also clearly shows a decrease:

Conceptions total under 18s

The number of conceptions by under-18s between 1998 and 2012. Interactive version available here.

The report states that: “It is widely understood that teenage pregnancy and early motherhood can be associated with poor educational achievement, poor physical and mental health, social isolation, poverty and related factors”.

Accordingly, “in England this led the previous government to set a target to halve the teenage conception rate by 2010, when compared with 1998.”

Did they meet their target? It seems not. As the graph shows, in 1998 the conception rate stood at 47.1. In 2010 it decreased to 34.3.

However, the current government has included the under-18 teenage conception rate as one of its three sexual health indicators in its Public Health Outcomes Framework (2013-2016) – demonstrating that despite this landmark, progress will still continue.

The ONS have numerous possible explanations for the recent reductions. They told the Mail Online that possible reasons include: “the programs invested in by successive governments”, “sex and relationships education”, “improved access to contraceptives and contraceptive publicity”.

They also believed that it may have been caused by a “shift in aspirations of young women towards education” and the “perception of stigma associated with being a teenage mother”.

Has there been an increase in stigma associated with being a teenage mother in recent years? And if so, what has caused it?

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