Pregnancy Before Age 16 – Dropping Quite Rapidly From a Peak in 1997

Tracking four databases, a recent study finds sharply falling ‘teenage pregnancy’ rates in England, starting in 1997 and accelerating in 2007.[1] Rates have fallen fastest in the most deprived areas, albeit from a very high base. The reduction has been much larger in England than in other European countries where the decline is also observed. It is difficult to know exactly why, but proximal causes (increasing availability of long-acting contraception) and distal causes (gradually improving educational standards in England) are both correlated in this study with lower teenage pregnancy. I think we should go even further in removing barriers to use of contraception in young people – for instance it should be available without prescription, or if prescription is required it should be available on site, given evidence cited in a previous News Blog.[2]
— Richard Lilford, CLAHRC WM Director

Reference:

  1. Wellings K, Palmer MJ, Geary RS, et al. Changes in Conceptions in Women Younger Than 18 Years and the Circumstances of Young Mothers in England in 2000-12: an Observational Study. Lancet. 2016; 388: 586-95.
  2. Lilford RJ. Contraception – a Huge Cause of Controversy Around the World. NIHR CLAHRC West Midlands News Blog. August 8, 2014.
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3 thoughts on “Pregnancy Before Age 16 – Dropping Quite Rapidly From a Peak in 1997”

  1. it could also be related to (a) social norms – the ‘demonisation’ of teenage pregnancy and (b) government policy. What’s equally worrying (given we don’t educate young people about the fertility lifespan/ relationship negotiating skills and they find themselves in a world that’s hostile to pregnancy or at least difficult to deal with in terms of jobs/ childcare/ debt/ housing etc in their 20s) is that it’s nowadays MORE likely that a woman will have IVF than a teenage pregnancy and yet there is no considered thought being put into these social trends (barring RCOG Expert Working Group 1997). We’ve got exponentially rising childbearing > 35 and > 40, (and concomitant rising infertility/ miscarriage rates too etc) with very little clinically and cost effective treatments. If teenage pregnancy is ‘everybody’s business’ why isnt this. It has an impact on childhealth, the workplace, maternity services etc. Why all the fuss about ‘teenage’ pregnancy (a term I dont like) rather than ‘middle-age’ pregnancy with its much better described adverse health impacts/ morbidity and mortality? How does one get important ‘public health’ issues onto the agenda, Richard?

    1. Susan,
      I have been working in the West Midlands to raise awareness about the effects of delayed childbirth in general. I’ve spoken to the Deputy Director for Healthcare Public Health and she is briefed for discussions in her network. I’ve also been to the Heads of Midwifery meeting to discuss the care of older women who had delayed childbearing – they had no specific care package or interventions other than offering early inductions to over 40s in line with the RCOG advice. The new strategy for midwifery in the Irish Republic has started midwives thinking about their role in preconception care and they have shown interest in developing this further. I’ve also presented at internal meetings in the University of Warwick on this topic.
      Pebbles in the pond, I know…

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