Large fall in number of Wigan under-18s getting pregnant

A pregnancy test kit
A pregnancy test kit

Far fewer Wigan under-18s are getting pregnant, new data reveals

Sexual health experts put the trend down to better access to contraceptives, and a shift in priorities among a younger generation more focused on their professional careers.

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New Office for National Statistics data show 23 in every 1,000 girls aged between 15 and 17 fell pregnant in Wigan in 2017, compared with 35 six years earlier.

Katherine O’Brien, associate director of communications and campaigns at the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, said: “There is no doubt that improved access to contraception, particularly highly-effective long-acting methods such as the contraceptive implant, has had a significant impact.

“This may be in part due to improvements in the information we are giving our young people, but wider societal shifts are also being reflected in the downward trend.

“We know that young people today are very much focused on their education and career.”

“They are also determined to succeed in a challenging economic environment, and feel that having a child at this stage will be disruptive to their life goals.”

In 2017, there were 120 pregnancies among 15 to 17-year-olds in Wigan.

Of them, 43 per cent ended in an abortion.

Ms O’Brien added: “Far from the stereotype of groups of teenagers binge-drinking, young people are consuming alcohol at much lower levels, spending significant amounts of time socialising with friends online rather than face-to-face.”

Natika Halil, chief executive of sexual health charity FPA, put the fall in teen pregnancies down to hard work from health and education professionals but feared that cuts to sexual health services across the country could easily undermine the achievement.

She said: “Teenage pregnancy 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.”

Prof Kate Ardern, director for public health at Wigan Council said: “We are committed to working with communities, schools and families to ensure all of our children and young people are aware of the various types of contraception and where to access it.

“We do this with our partners, including Spectrum CIC who have been delivering the borough’s sexual health services since April 2018. They are fantastic at working directly with the education sector to each and engage with teenagers and young adults.

“The work to reduce the number of teenage pregnancies is a key priority for Wigan Borough as it helps us tackle wider issues such as child poverty, health inequalities and social exclusion.

“It is great news that fewer Wigan under-18s are becoming pregnant, but there is always room for improvement so we will continue to equip our young people with the knowledge and guidance needed to make informed decisions.”

For more information about sexual health services available in Wigan, visit www.spectrumhealth.org.uk