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Teenage pregnancy rates rise for the time in six years

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Teenage pregnancy rates across England and Wales have risen slightly for the time in six years, figures from the Office of National Statistics show.

The under-18 conception rate increased from 40.9 per 1,000 women aged 15-17 in 2006 to 41.9 in 2007, the first rise since 2002.

Rates have been falling in every other year in the last 11 years of monitoring. However, the government’s target to halve teenage pregnancy rates by 2010 still seems unlikely.

There were 42,918 conceptions in 2007 in those under 18 across the two countries and 41,768 in 2006.

Under-16 conception rates have risen too – from 7.7 per 1,000 women aged 13-15 in 2006 to 8.3 in 2007 – 61.9% of these led to a legal abortion.

This week the government announced it would be allocating£20.5m to improve teenage access to contraceptives. This will include£7m for a media campaign on contraceptive choices to raise awareness of different options such as long acting reversible implants.

Beverley Hughes, children and young people’s minister, said the new figures were ‘disappointing’. But she added: ‘We have already announced our intention to make sex and relationship education (SRE) compulsory and we will be providing new SRE guidance to schools this September.’

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