Teen pregnancies higher in poor areas but overall rate at record low

Teenage pregnancy rates in Scotland have fallen to a new low.
Teenage pregnancy rates in Scotland have fallen to a new low.
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Teenaged girls from the poorest areas are five times more likely to become pregnant than their wealthier peers, prompting calls for action to tackle the cycle of deprivation faced by young mothers.

The overall pregnancy rate among Scottish teens fell to a record low in 2014 after being among the worst in Western Europe, by plummeting 40 per cent in the last decade.

However, the figures revealed a stark gulf between rich and poor as 1,927 under-20s in the poorest communities became pregnant in 2014 compared to just 394 in the most affluent areas.

Poorer teens were also almost twice as likely to have an abortion, according to official NHS figures.

Sexual health charity FPA’s chief executive, Natika H Halil, said: “While not all teenage pregnancies are unwanted or unplanned, teenagers who become parents are more likely to have poorer health, education, social and economic outcomes, so it is vital we support young people to make decisions about their lives which are best for them.

“It is also really important that the health, social and education professionals

working in the areas which have not seen as much of a decrease have the resources they need to give young people all over Scotland equal access to information and support.”

NHS Tayside reported the highest number of pregnant teens in Scotland, with Dundee once again topping the table among under-16s and 18s.

The health board has more than halved its rate since a spike in 2007, when 71 out of 1,000 under-20s became pregnant.

The lowest figures among mainland health boards were at NHS Borders.

Labour inequalities spokesperson Monica Lennon said: “Teenage mothers are more likely to suffer from post-natal depression and higher rates of teenage pregnancy can be linked to child poverty rates.”

Better sex education and access to treatment are credited for the improvement but critics say more needs to be done to tackle the issue.

Public health minister Aileen Campbell, said: “I am pleased to see the rate of pregnancy in young people has continued to reduce for the seventh year in a row.

“In March we published our Pregnancy and Parenthood in Young People Strategy, which aims to address the fundamental causes of pregnancy in young people by considering the wider factors that are key to supporting young people – such as education, attainment, training and employment.”

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