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On the Map - Teenage Pregnancy - A bumpy rate of decline

We now have a decade's worth of figures since the Government announced its teen pregnancy strategy in 1999, promising to halve the conception rate in under-18 girls by 2010.

While there has been a marked decline of 13.3 per cent in England - and 13.9 per cent in England and Wales - between 1998 and 2008, there is little hope of achieving that target.

Over the 10 years, many regions have witnessed a consistent decline in teen pregnancies. Others, however, have not been helped by "hot spots" (the red figures on the map) where teen births have risen considerably.

In the North West, for example, sizable rises in Manchester, Halton and Tameside have stemmed the overall rate of decline. A regional success story in the South West is marred by a 46.9 per cent increase in teen births in Torbay over the same period.

The Government initially allocated #163;260 million to reducing teenage pregnancy and ministers announced an extra #163;20.5 million in funding to promote contraception last year. It has also placed greater focus on sex and relationships education in schools.

The rate of teenage pregnancies may be the lowest for more than a decade, but for some girls, having a baby is still viewed as a viable alternative to finishing their education or pursuing a career at this stage in their lives. Addressing this attitude, as well as increasing access to contraception, may further speed the decline.

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