Under-18s becoming pregnant down by a quarter during first national lockdown

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The number of girls becoming pregnant in England and Wales fell by more than a quarter during the first national coronavirus lockdown, figures show.

There were 2,600 conceptions to under-18s between April and June 2020, according to provisional data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

This is the lowest number of conceptions in a single quarter in more than 20 years.

It is a fall of 27.7% from the first three months of 2020, which saw 3,597 conceptions.

Quarterly conceptions to girls aged under 18 in England and Wales
(PA Graphics)

The number of pregnancies to girls and teenagers under 18 has been on a downward trend over the past two decades.

The North West was the region with the highest number of conceptions to under-18s between April and June 2020 – 466 in the latest quarter.

This was followed by the South East (340 conceptions) and Yorkshire and the Humber (292 conceptions).

The conception rate – the number of conceptions per thousand girls aged 15 to 17 – also fell.

There were 10.9 conceptions per thousand girls aged 15-17 in the three months to June 2020, down from 15.2 in the previous quarter.

The figures cover pregnancies that result in a live birth, stillbirth or an abortion.

They do not include miscarriages or pregnancies terminated through illegal abortions.

The date of conception is estimated using the recorded gestation for abortions and stillbirths, and assuming 38 weeks gestation for live births.

A spokesperson for the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (Bpas) said: “Many teenage mothers provide a loving, caring home for their child, and every parent should be supported.

“We must make sure that when discussing the decline in teenage pregnancies, we do not stigmatise those who choose to have a baby at this stage in their lives.

“The continued decline in unplanned and unwanted teenage pregnancy is reflective of a trend we have seen over the last decade related to changing teen lifestyles and social interactions.

“This is especially unsurprising when considering the impact of the pandemic and related restrictions.

“We also know that older women have struggled to access the contraception they need during lockdown, and as life returns to normal, contraception services must too.”

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