Wales

Teenage pregnancies in Wales halve in a decade

File photo of a baby holding a woman's finger. Image copyright PA

The number of teenage girls aged under 18 falling pregnant in Wales has halved in a decade, official figures show.

Girls under 16 accounted for only five pregnancies in every 1,000 in 2015, compared to 11 in 2005, according to StatsWales.

Those under 18 accounted for 31 of every 1,000 pregnancies compared to 62 a decade ago.

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) Wales said it was down to better contraception and more social stigma.

Helen Rogers, its director, said a decade ago Wales had one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates in Europe, with some girls in areas of poverty seeing being a mother as a "badge of honour".

She said a "huge amount of work" had been carried out across communities to reverse the trend.

Wrexham and Torfaen - which had the highest pregnancy rates in Wales 10 years ago - have seen significant reductions.

In 2005, Wrexham recorded 152 total teenage pregnancies and Torfaen 116 - in 2015 they recorded 43 and 34 respectively.

"The problem was made everyone's business to sort out, so we've had nurses, midwives, school nurses, local authorities, everyone working together to tackle it and it's working," Ms Rogers said.

She explained: "One of the changes is 10 years ago, amongst some teenagers it wasn't seen to be a big deal to be pregnant at 17. It was like a badge of honour.

"If you looked back through their family history, you'd see their mum was pregnant at 17 and so was their gran... it was like a social norm.

"In some parts of society that's still the case. But just like drink-driving is now seen as not being cool among young people, so is teenage pregnancy. There's been a social shift.

"Also, contraception now is more tailored to teenagers. In the past they would just be given the pill but then would forget to take it. Now there are implants and injections and, when they need changing, they will be sent a text."

In March, data from the Office for National Statistics showed fewer teenagers were getting pregnant than ever before.

The conception rate for under-18s in England and Wales had halved in eight years, to 21 per 1,000 women in 2015.

The Welsh Government welcomed the "significant reduction" in teenage pregnancies in Wales.

"This reflects our integrated approach, which promotes sexual health and healthy choices for women and girls, including relationships and sex education, safer sex and contraceptive services," a spokesman added.

More on this story