Teenage pregnancy: Scarborough figures rise

Teenage pregnancy in Scarborough dropped in 2015
Teenage pregnancy in Scarborough dropped in 2015

Scarborough remains the teenage pregnancy capital of North Yorkshire.

In 2015 the figures for Scarborough district were lower than other areas in the region – the first time since 1998.

But new data, released by the Office for National Statistics, shows the conception rate for teenagers under 18 has risen to the highest in North Yorkshire again.

Scarborough accounted for more than a third of all teenage pregnancies in the county in 2016 – up from just under a quarter the previous year.

Overall conception rates for girls aged 15 to 17 in Yorkshire and the Humber in 2016 have fallen by 9% compared to 2015, while Scarborough’s have risen by 27%.

Figures for Scarborough in 2016 show there was a conception rate of 26.1 per 1,000 women in that age group compared to 20.5 the previous year. Richmondshire is second in the county with a rate of 16.6 per 1,000 women, with neighbouring Ryedale among the lowest at 5.6.

Although Scarborough has a lower rate than Hull, it has almost double the teenage pregnancies recorded in both York and the East Riding of Yorkshire.

Natika Halil, chief executive of sexual health charity the Family Planning Association, said: “It’s concerning to see large variations in teenage pregnancy rates between different areas.

“Teenage pregnancy can be a result of many different factors, including deprivation, but we know it can be reduced by investing the right time, resources and expertise into services and education.

“This investment not only saves money in the long term, but also helps prevent the range of negative long-term educational, health and social outcomes that young parents and their children are more likely to experience.”

Since 1998, when records began, Scarborough has remained in line with Yorkshire and has also seen a drop in conception of around 58%.

Two decades ago, 61.3 women under 18 in 1,000 in the town fell pregnant. This figure has fallen to and remained under 30 since 2012.

Ms Halil added: “This dramatic fall in teenage pregnancy rates in Yorkshire and the Humber is thanks to a great deal of hard work from health and education professionals, along with the investment in services that we saw during the Teenage Pregnancy Strategy that ended in 2010.”

Since 2014, and in 13 years since 1998, Scarborough has had the lowest percentage of abortion rates in the county – showing many young women are stepping up to take on the role as parents or following other options.

“It’s also important to remember that whether or not young people are sexually active, or choose to become parents, they should never face stigma or judgement,” said Ms Halil.

“Pregnancy and parenthood can be a positive life choice for young people, and young parents deserve to get the support they need to make informed choices about their lives. This is support that only properly-funded services, alongside high-quality relationships and sex education, can provide.”

A spokesperson for North Yorkshire County Council said: “Reducing teenage pregnancy continues to be a priority for North Yorkshire County Council and in particular reducing the gap between areas with high teenage pregnancy rates and the rest of North Yorkshire. Despite the good reductions across the county there is still more to be done.

“The county council has continued to invest in sexual health services and there have been no cuts in provision.

“The council commissions an integrated sexual health service that was re-designed in 2015 and resulted in an increase in service provision across North Yorkshire with more clinics in more areas.

“There is also an outreach team that works with vulnerable young people who struggle to access mainstream services.”