Teenage pregnancies in Swindon have fallen by almost a third during the last five years, according to the latest national statistics.
The borough saw a 16% reduction in the number of girls under the age of 18 becoming pregnant between 2009 (126) and 2010 (106). In 2005 the number of teenage pregnancies in the borough stood at 153.
Swindon’s conception rate for teenagers, which is measured per thousand women in the age group, is also lower than the national average. In Swindon the conception rate is 30, compared to the national figure of 35.4 for England. And abortion rates are also down from 17.3 per 1000 teenagers in 2009 to 16.1 in 2010. The national average is 17.8 per 1000 teenagers.
The reduction has been attributed to increased investment in sex and relationships education across schools, colleges and youth centres. There has also been increased availability of sexual health services in a range of places and increased support for professionals and parents.
There is also a strong link between reduced teenage pregnancy rates and increased levels of achievement, and Swindon’s young people have seen their attainment, particularly around GSCE results, improve over the last few years.
Cllr David Renard, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, said: “The council and its partners across health and education have continued to work collectively to provide clear messages and appropriate support to young people, their parents and professionals in this area.
“Becoming a parent at any age is hard work and I am delighted that increasingly Swindon’s young people are choosing to delay becoming parents until later on in life.”
Julie Northcott, Swindon Borough Council’s Strategic Planning and Commissioning Manager for Teenage Pregnancy, said: “The continued reduction in teenage pregnancy shows that young people in Swindon are making improved choices with regard to their relationships and sexual activity, through delaying the onset of sex or ensuring they have reliable contraception in place.
“We know that technological media is an increasing area of influence and as professionals and parents we need to continue ensuring young people receive accurate and relationship based information and support as they move through adolescence and into adulthood.”
Cherry Jones, Deputy Director of Public Health NHS Swindon, said: “Over the past few years, we have made a lot of progress in reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies among young people in Swindon.
“However, there is still room to reduce rates further. We will continue to work hard with all our partner agencies in providing better information to young people on safer sexual choices and knowing where and how to access confidential sexual health advice.”