Public Health England (PHE) welcome new figures showing the conception rate among under 18 year olds dropped by 9.8 per cent to 27.7 per 1000 in 2012, an all-time low for England. Published today by the Office of National Statistics, the number of under 18 conceptions also fell, by 10.3 per cent to 26,157, as did under 16 conceptions (5,131).

Since 1998, the under 18 conception rate has decreased by 40.6 per cent – with reductions of up to 64 per cent in some top tier local authorities in England during this period. However, regional variations remain striking – with conception rates in some areas nearly 90 per cent higher than the England average.

Professor Kevin Fenton, PHE Health and Wellbeing Director, said: “Today’s data show us high conception rates are not inevitable, if young people receive the right support. Teenage pregnancy and early motherhood can be associated with poor educational achievement, poor physical and mental health, social isolation and poverty, so it is vital this downward trend is continued.

conception rate

“PHE is committed to supporting local government and partners to further reduce under 18 and under 16 conceptions, and provide support for young parents, as an important route to tackling inequalities, reducing child poverty and improving public health.”

Alison Hadley, Teenage Pregnancy Knowledge Exchange Director at the University of Bedfordshire, and PHE advisor on this issue, said: ‘Continued investment and dedication over the last ten years has paid real dividends but the England under 18 conception rate remains higher than other Western European countries.

“We need to find ways to both sustain the significant reductions we’ve made and accelerate progress. Evidence and lessons from local areas shows us young people need comprehensive sex and relationship education in and out of school, easy access to young people-centred contraceptive and sexual health services, and targeted support for those most at risk.

falling conception rate

“Progress needs to be everybody’s business with strong local leadership and all practitioners and services in touch with young people supporting them to make informed choices.”