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Who's at risk and why?

Background papers: children :: Teenage pregnancy :: Who's at risk and why?

In England, around 40,000 young women (22,830 under 18 and 15,155 under 16 conceptions) become pregnant each year. The England under-18 conception rate is at its lowest point for 20 years at 24.3 conceptions per 1,000 females aged 15-17 in 2013.[1]

There is now extensive research providing clear justification for why reducing teenage pregnancy is important. Longitudinal studies have demonstrated that young parents and their children are more likely to experience a wide range of health and social inequalities including:[1]

• Teenage mothers are less likely to finish their education, and more likely to bring up their child alone and in poverty;
• The infant mortality rate for babies born to teenage mothers is 60 per cent higher than for babies born to older mothers
• Teenage mothers have three times the rate of post-natal depression compared to older mothers and a higher risk of poor mental health for three years after the birth;
• Children of teenage mothers are generally at increased risk of poverty, low educational attainment, poor housing and poor health, and have lower rates of economic activity in adult life.

The cost associated with teenage pregnancy provides a strong economic argument for ensuring that reducing teenage pregnancy is prioritised. Young mothers (and fathers) are more likely than older mothers to require extensive support from a range of local services, for example to help them access housing and/or re-engage in education, employment or training.[1]

A wealth of evidence exists identifying risk factors, which influence a young woman's likelihood of becoming a teenage parent. With teenage pregnancy rates far greater among deprived communities, the poorer outcomes associated with teenage motherhood also mean the effects of deprivation are passed from one generation to another, increasing inequality. Ward level teenage conception figures published for 2011-13 show that Luton and Wayfield, Gillingham North, Chatham Central and Gillingham South have the highest teenage conception rates in Medway, which correlates with high levels of deprivation.


[1]   Department for Children, Schools and Families. Teenage Pregnancy: Beyond 2010 2010; Department for Children, Schools and Families.