Research studies show that while young people can be competent parents, children born to teenagers are more likely to experience a range of negative outcomes in later life and are more likely to become teenage parents themselves.
Teenage mothers have three times the rate of post-natal depression of older mothers and a higher risk of poor mental health for three years after the birth. In addition, the infant mortality rate for babies born to teenage mothers is 60% higher than for babies born to other mothers.
At age 30, teenage mothers are 22% more likely to be living in poverty than mothers giving birth aged 24 or over, and are much less likely to be employed or living with a partner. They are also 20% more likely to have no qualifications at 30 years-old than mothers giving birth aged 24+ years.
Rates of teenage pregnancy are far higher among deprived communities, so the negative consequences of teenage pregnancy are disproportionately concentrated among those that are already disadvantaged. The poorer outcomes associated with teenage motherhood also mean the effects of deprivation and social exclusion can be passed from one generation to the next.
The national target to reduce under 18 conceptions by 50% by 2010 was set in 1999 using the 1998 data as a baseline. The 2010 York Joint Strategic Needs Assessment identified that whilst the teenage pregnancy rate in 2008 was slightly higher than the 1998 baseline of 34 per 1000 females aged 15-17 years, it was a 20% reduction on the previous year. The data for 2009 identified a further reduction in the conception rate in females aged 15 -17 years to 26.6 per 1000, which was significantly lower than the England rate for the same period.
The trend for York over the period 1998-2009 was a 21.7% reduction overall, compared to an 18.7% reduction in the England rate (Department of Education). However, there is marked variation between electoral wards in terms of under-18 conception rates, with more deprived wards having a higher rate than the less deprived. This is illustrated in the figure below.
National data on teenage conception rates is between 15 and 24 months old, and therefore there is a need to generate more up to date local data. This could be achieved by collating data from local organisations such as maternity and abortion services. This would inform commissioning decisions in a timelier manner and allow services to react more quickly to changes in demand.
In York the teenage conception rate (age under 18) is maintaining its downward trend with a rate of 23.0 per 1,000 girls in the age group in 2012 (Office for National Statistics).
Since 1998 York has seen an overall reduction in teenage conceptions of 33%. The reduction was greatest between 2007 and 2012 when the rate for York reduced from 44.3 to 23.0 (50%).
Source:Office for National Statistics
Teenage conceptions have been linked to deprivation, most recently ONS have released some area based conceptions and deprivation analysis for 2008-10. This includes a Conceptions-Deprivation Analysis Toolkit for local authorities.
There is still a marked variation between electoral wards in terms of under-18 conception rates, with more deprived wards having a higher rate than the less deprived.
Correlation between ward deprivation and under 18 conception rate. 2008 to 2010
Between 1998 and 2011, there has been a 4.32% reduction in the number of pregnancies leading to termination. Termination services are not currently available in York, meaning that women have to travel out of area for a termination of pregnancy. The responsibility for commissioning termination services recently moved from Public Health to the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).
The Teenage Pregnancy Strategy has been incorporated into a Risk and Resilience Strategy to reflect the fact that that the risk and vulnerability factors are similar for a number of risky behaviours, and actions taken to address these risk factors and to increase levels of protection, will help prevent a range of negative outcomes.
The Strategy takes into consideration the prevention, support and treatment elements of the previous teenage pregnancy, sexual health and young people’s substance misuse strategies.
This strategy also supports the delivery of the Child Sexual Exploitation action plan owned by the City of York Safeguarding Children Board and addresses teenage relationship abuse within the Domestic Abuse Strategy owned by the Safer York Partnership under the single heading of ‘Risk and Resilience’. The Terms of Reference for the partnership networks and delivery groups are currently being updated.
Teenage Pregnancy: Priorities
- Targeting early intervention and prevention work towards those young people deemed more at risk of poor outcomes due to substance misuse, poor sexual health, teenage pregnancy and entering unhealthy relationships. These include young people who are not in education, employment or training. Children in and leaving care, children and young people in alternative education settings and those in supported housing.
- Provide information, training and support to those working directly with young people and their parents and carers to highlight the wider influences that contribute to young people engaging in sexual risk taking behaviours resulting in unsafe and unprotected sex which may lead to unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections.
- Extend the wellbeing questionnaire to all year 10 pupils in all schools across the city to enable the collection of up to date information about young peoples health related behaviours to inform a commissioning and the delivery early intervention support and services.
- Work with the Family Information Service and School Health to provide timely relevant information to parents and carers using a variety of media.
- Extend the remit of the current Risk and Resilience Strategy to include young people up to the age of 25 to take into consideration those most vulnerable young people in transition from young people’s services into adult services.
- Re procure contraceptive and sexual health services through a comprehensive commissioning process to ensure they are meeting the needs of young people and adults in the city of York
- Support teachers and school nurses through ‘school clusters’ to ensure there is strong delivery of relationships and sex education in all schools ensuring clear links to support services for young people.
Child and Maternal Health Intelligence Network (2014) Service Snapshot – Teenage Pregnancy
Service Snapshot – Teenage Pregnancy
Public Health England (2013) Data Knowledge Gateway
Data Knowledge Gateway
Public Health England (2013) Sexual Health Balanced Scorecard
Sexual Health Balanced Scorecard
Public Health England (2013) Teen Pregnancy Resources - Sources of Data
Teen Pregnancy Resources - Sources of Data
Offices for National Statistics (2012) Conception Statistics England and Wales 2012
Conception Statistics England and Wales 2012
Office for National Statistics (2012) Interactive Map for Under 18 Conception Rates
Interactive Map for Under 18 Conception Rates
Office for National Statistics (2010) Area Based Analysis Conceptions and Deprivation Analysis England and Wales 2008-10
Area Based Analysis, Conceptions and Deprivation Analysis, England and Wales