TEENAGE pregnancy numbers in Middlesbrough have fallen to a historic low thanks to improved intervention, education and support across the town.
The long-term trend has been achieved through a partnership approach bringing experts together from education, public health and the local authority.
A positive trend from 1998 to 2010 saw conceptions fall from a high of 211 in 1999 to 178.
The next five years saw the biggest achievement with even steeper falls in the number of teenage pregnancies to just 84 in 2015, a drop of over 47%.
The vast majority of cases are conceptions involving girls aged 16 and 17, with around 55% resulting in a live birth and the remaining 45% ended through termination or miscarriage.
In 2015 there were 36 live births to young people aged under 18 out of 84 conceptions.
The steady reduction in teenage conceptions is the result of a co-ordinated multi-agency strategy spearheaded by a teenage pregnancy networking group.
The group has implemented a wide-ranging action plan with a clear focus on good quality relationship and sex education, young person-friendly access to contraception and targeted education and services for those most risk of conception.
Edward Kunonga, Middlesbrough Council’s Director of Public Health and Public Protection, said: “We welcome the continued reductions in the teenage pregnancy rates and how the rates are reducing faster than national and regional averages.
“This demonstrates the multi-agency working carried out across the borough through schools, voluntary sector, health commissioner’s services, colleges and Middlesbrough Council.
“While the rates have been dropping consistently over the years, we would like to see them reduce even further in order to close the gap between local and national rates.
“We know that teenage pregnancies are associated with poor health and well-being outcomes for the mother and the child.
“This is why reducing teenage pregnancies is a key local priority for us and we will continue to work across agencies and communities to support our young people.”
Councillor Mike Carr, Middlesbrough Council’s Executive Member for Children’s Services, said: “Middlesbrough is not alone in the issues it faces with teenage conception rates, so these figures are excellent news.
“Our determination to tackle this issue has been unwavering, and the multi-agency response to it has delivered significant and life-changing results.
“All partners – from schools, charities and GPs to midwives, sexual health services and parents – have played their part in ensuring our young people are able to make informed choices and get the best possible start in life.
“I’m grateful to everyone involved, and I hope we can continue to move in a positive direction.”