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Teenage pregnancy rise triggers £20m boost for contraception

By Lilian Anekwe

The pregnancy rates in teenage girls in England and Wales has risen for the first time since 2002, figures published today have shown.

Figures published today by the Office of National Statistics show that the under 18 conception rate increased by 2% from 40.9 conceptions per 1,000 women in 2006, to 41.9 per 1,000 in 2007.

This is equivalent to 42,918 conceptions in women aged under 18 in 2007 – 5% of all conceptions in England and Wales.

The rate of conception in under 16s also rose, from 7.8 per 1,000 women between 2002 and 2004, to 8.0 between 2005 and 2007.

Half of all conceptions in women aged under 18 resulted in an abortion, up from 48% in 2006. The rate of conceptions that ended in abortion in women of all ages remained at 22%.

Despite the rise in national figures in 2007 the long-term trend is still downward.

But health minister Dawn Primorolo said the rise in teenage pregnancy and abortions underlined the need for better access to contraception, and announced a £20.5m investment package to improve young people's access to contraception.

Some £7 million will be spent on a new 'contraceptive choices' media campaign to raise awareness of the different options - including Long Acting Reversible Contraceptives (LARCs) - available to young people. A further £10 million will go to local health services to ensure contraception is available in the right places at the right time.

Ministers will also be meeting PCTs in areas with high rates and receiving six monthly reports on the actions they are taking to strengthen their strategies.

Part of the £20.5m spent on improving contraception information and access will go on campaign to promote LARCs Part of the £20.5m spent on improving contraception information and access will go on campaign to promote LARCs

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