Let’s not take eye off the teenage pregnancy ball

It’s positive news that statistics published today by the Office for National Statistics show the under-18 concept rate is the lowest for for over 45 years including a drop of 10% on the previous year. It’s over 10 years since we first worked with the Department of Health and local public health teams to devise and deliver effective interventions to encourage young women to delay starting a family. The government then identified a reduction in teenage pregnancy as a priority in order to tackle women’s self-esteem, aspirations and attainment and ensure babies had the best start in life (given that young motherhood is associated with poorer outcomes in terms of birth weight, breastfeeding and other health indicators). It encouraging therefore to see this fall in rates. However, there is no room for complacency or the temptation to consider ‘job done’. Our rates continue to remain higher than other Western countries. So in actual fact we must ensure we sustain and build on this news with continued investment and interest across public health and education. We’re going to be looking closely for public health and education initiatives to ensure an ongoing focus and rolling programme of sex and relationship education and inspiration about aspirations and positive life choices.