By MARTIN GEORGE
Thursday, May 3, 2012
Contraceptive advice from health visitors has helped cut the rate of teenage pregnancies in Norfolk to its lowest level for 12 years, Norfolk County Council has said.
New figures show 45 fewer teenagers conceived in 2010 compared to the previous year, and the pregnancy rate within the age group fell to 34.1 per 1,000, reversing an increase between 2008 and 2009.
However, although the county-wide trend remained below the national average of 35.4 per 1,000, the teenage pregnancy rates in Norwich and Waveney were above the average for England and Wales, and Great Yarmouth’s rate of 56 was among the highest in the country.
And although the overall trend was downwards, the proportion of teenagers becoming pregnant in Norwich and Brecklands rose between 2009 and 2010.
The county council said it has been working with partners in the NHS, schools and the voluntary sector on the area’s teenage pregnancy strategy for three years, aiming to give young people access to good sex and relationships education, advice and contraception.
Vulnerable young people, including those not in education, employment or training, looked-after children and teenagers who already have children, have been targeted with more specific support.
Alison Thomas, cabinet member for children’s services, said: “It is good news for Norfolk’s young people that teenage pregnancy levels have fallen again. We know teenage parents and the babies born to them face greater difficulties in life in terms of their health and education and we want young people to have the information they need to make good decisions about their future.
“The C Card free condom scheme and targeted work with looked after children and care leavers is making a difference but the teenage pregnancy rate is still too high both in Norfolk and nationally and we need to continue to get the message across to young people that they have choices and there are much more positive options open to them, in the range of education and training opportunities available.
“Being a teenage mum or dad can be extremely tough financially, physically and emotionally and we and our partners want to do what we can to ensure young people have high aspirations and make the best decisions for their future.”
Anna Morgan, director of operations for Norfolk Community Health and Care, highlighted the role of school nurses, and the family nurse partnership which supports first time mums aged below 18 from their early pregnancy until their child is two.