Teenage pregenancy rate

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NORFOLK’S teenage pregnancy rate has fallen to its lowest level in 12 years, according to statistics to be highlighted to county councillors.

A report to Norfolk County Council’s Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Panel highlights that 45 fewer teenagers conceived in 2010 than the previous year, bringing the rate of teenage pregnancy in the county to 34.1 per 1,000 – compared with 36.7 per 1,000 in 2009.

It is the lowest level teenage pregnancy has reached in the county since 1998 and follows an increase between 2008 and 2009. Norfolk remains below the national figure of 35.4 conceptions per 1,000.

The figures, which are published in a performance report being presented to the panel on May 10, follow three years of intensive work by Norfolk County Council and its partners in the NHS, schools and the voluntary sector to implement the county’s teenage pregnancy strategy, which aims to ensure young people have access to good sex and relationships education, advice and contraception. The strategy also focuses on providing specific support to more vulnerable young people, such as those not in education, employment and training, looked after children and teenagers who are already parents.

Alison Thomas, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services at Norfolk County Council, said: “It is good news for Norfolk’s young people that teenage pregnancy levels have fallen again. We know that teenage parents and the babies born to them face greater difficulties in life in terms of their health and education and we want young people to have the information they need to make good decisions about their future.

“The C Card free condom scheme and targeted work with looked after children and care leavers is making a difference but the teenage pregnancy rate is still too high both in Norfolk and nationally and we need to continue to get the message across to young people that they have choices and there are much more positive options open to them, in the range of education and training opportunities available.

“Being a teenage mum or dad can be extremely tough financially, physically and emotionally and we and our partners want to do what we can to ensure young people have high aspirations and make the best decisions for their future.”

A particular success in helping to reduce teenage conception rates has been the development of Norfolk’s Family Nurse Partnerships, which are funded by Norfolk Community Health and Care, East Coast Community Health Care and Norfolk County Council. These provide intensive health visitor support to young parents, giving them advice on contraception and helping them to improve the health and well-being of their children.