Teenage pregnancies show a fall in Norfolk

Rebecca GoughNorfolk has renewed its commitment to reduce teenage pregnancy as new figures show teenage conception rates in the county have dropped to their lowest level in nine years.Rebecca Gough

Norfolk has renewed its commitment to reduce teenage pregnancy as new figures show teenage conception rates in the county have dropped to their lowest level in nine years.

Figures released by the Office of National Statistics show the county's teenage pregnancy levels fell by 15.2pc between 2007 and 2008, from 40.4 conceptions per 1,000 women aged 15 to 17, to 34.2 per 1,000.

The figures mean nearly 100 fewer young women in Norfolk became pregnant in 2008 than in the previous year, a drop from 591 in 2007 to 500 in 2008 - the lowest since the national teenage pregnancy strategy was launched in 1999.

Norfolk County Council, NHS Norfolk and NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney together with partners in the voluntary sector developed a teen pregnancy strategy of its own, aimed at targeting specific groups of young people and increasing and improving sex and relationships education as well as access to health service in schools in priority areas.

Another example was the C-Card scheme which offers young people a credit card style C-Card once they have demonstrated they know how to use condoms effectively. This can then be presented to a variety of locations across Norfolk to obtain condoms and further sexual health information.

A number of pharmacies across Norwich also offer emergency hormonal contraception as part on an ongoing pilot which will be rolled out to other areas in Norfolk from the next financial year.

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Norfolk's teenage pregnancy coordinator Dr Mark Osborn, said: 'Our priority has been to focus on specific groups, targeting the most vulnerable to ensure that they have access to strong support and advice.

'We have been widening the C Card free condom scheme, developing work with looked after children and care leavers and ensuring the best quality sex and relationships education is available at our pupil referral units to help to ensure that some of the groups where teenage pregnancy is historically higher have all of the information available to them to make good choices.'

Nationally, the teenage pregnancy rate has also fallen from 41.7 per 1,000 in 2007, to 40.4 per 1,000 in 2008, a 3.3pc drop.

The East of England had the lowest rate in the country with 31.4 per 1,000 young women getting pregnant.

Children's minister Dawn Primarolo said: 'Teenage pregnancy is no longer a rising problem. It is important that we recognise the progress made by many areas in driving down teenage pregnancy rates.

'Last year's increase was very disappointing so I am particularly pleased that today's statistics put us back on track. In the last two years alone local authorities and PCTs have redoubled efforts to tackle the causes of teenage pregnancy.'

Director of children's services for Norfolk County Council, Lisa Christensen, said: 'Today's news is fantastic for Norfolk and its young men and women but there is still a lot of work to be done and we need everyone to remain committed to tackling teenage pregnancy.

'We need to do more to help young people and their parents to be aware of the options available; to make confident plans for their futures; to have high aspirations and to make positive choices to achieve those aspirations.'

Director of public health for NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney, Dr Alistair Lipp , also welcomed the figures.