Nearly one in every five 18-year-old women have said they have been pregnant at least once in their life, according to a Department for Education survey.
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Almost half (46%) said they gave birth and just over a third (36%) said they had an abortion.
The details emerged out of the Cohort Study and the Longitudinal Study of Young People in England, published by the government this week, on the experience of thousands of 18-year-olds.
Of those asked about pregnancy, 18% said they have become pregnant on at least one occasion. Of these, 79% said they were pregnant once, 18% said they had been pregnant twice, and 3% fell pregnant three or more times.
The survey said a “noticeable trend” emerged between the women who became pregnant and their GCSE results. Of those who achieved between one and four GCSEs at grades D-G, 33% said they were pregnant at least once by the age of 18, compared with 6% of those who achieved eight or more GCSEs at grades A*-C.
Chair of the Teenage Pregnancy Independent Advisory Group, Gill Frances, said: “We still have unacceptably high levels of teenage pregnancy in this country although rates are at their lowest for 20 years.
“We need to do more to help young people get easy access to reliable long-acting contraception and to identify and support those most at risk of early pregnancy.
“At a time of public spending constraints, these statistics are a reminder that it is critical to maintain investment in young people’s contraceptive and sexual health services.”