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Teenage births fall 8% in 12 months

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Teenage births in England have fallen 8% in the last year, according to new figures on hospital deliveries.

There were 30,790 teenage deliveries in 2012/18, down 8.4% on the 33,620 figure for 2011/12.

The Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC), which released the figures, said the latest data represented a “substantial fall” of 28% on teenage deliveries in 2007/08, when there were 42,670.

The report shows there were 671,260 deliveries in NHS hospitals overall, with Caesarean section rates rising slightly to 25.5% - from 25% the year before and 24.6% five years ago.

The highest rate of Caesareans was among mothers aged 40 and over (10,620 out of 25,310, or 42%) compared with only one in seven mothers under 20 (4,070 out of 29,860, or 14%).

More babies are also born to women in the most deprived areas, with a birth rate of 37.2 per 1,000 compared with 18.6 per 1,000 in the least deprived areas.

Among teenage mothers, the figure is 31.1 births per 1,000 teenage girls in the most deprived areas compared with 3.6 per 1,000 in the least deprived - almost a 10-fold difference

The North East saw the highest rate of teenage births, while the lowest was in London.

Teenage mothers are aged between 13 and 19 when their babies are born.

Clare Murphy, director of external affairs at the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (Bpas), said: “We know the teenage conception rate is at its lowest rate since 1969, and this is reflected in both the decline in teenage births and abortions.

“It remains vitally important that young people have access to easily available contraception services, as well as unbiased advice on their options when pregnancies do occur.

“It is also interesting to note there’s been an increase in the number and rate of elective - as opposed to emergency - Caesarean sections. We believe strongly that women should have choice in childbirth, and whether to opt for a natural or surgical delivery.”

Mervi Jokinen, practice and standard adviser to the Royal College of Midwives, said: “We are concerned by the increase in the Caesarean rate, which has increased to 25.5%.

“That means that one in four women giving birth is having a Caesarean, which is a major surgical procedure for mother and baby.

“This data also shows that the age profile of pregnant women is getting older.

“The increasing age of mothers means greater demands are being placed on maternity services, as pregnancies for older women can result in an increased need for medical interventions.

“This demands more of midwives and others in the maternity team, adding to the workload placed on already-overstretched midwives.

“We welcome that teenage pregnancy rates have gone down but are concerned that rates of teenage pregnancy remain high in most deprived areas.

“We need more midwives in such areas to provide targeted support for vulnerable and disadvantaged communities.”

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