More under 16 mums-to-be keeping their babies

The teenage pregnancy rate has fallen in Sheffield. Pic: Katie Collins/PA Wire.
The teenage pregnancy rate has fallen in Sheffield. Pic: Katie Collins/PA Wire.
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The teenage pregnancy rate has fallen again in Sheffield despite a further rise in the number of under-16s going on to deliver babies, figures have revealed.

Across the city, 277 girls aged under 18 became pregnant in 2012 – the most recent year from which statistics are available – down on 321 in 2011.

But the number of young females having abortions has dropped from 50 per cent in 2010 to just over 40 per cent in 2012, suggesting more are keeping their babies.

The figures, issued by the Office for National Statistics, also show the number of under-16s giving birth has reduced, standing at 54 in 2012, down from 61 in 2011.

But 57 per cent of schoolgirls chose an abortion in 2010-12, a drop of more than 5.5 per cent from 2009-11.

Sheffield GP Helen Story said the success in cutting teenage pregnancy numbers was down to more girls using longer-acting contraception, such as implants.

Teen pregnancies have dropped everywhere else in South Yorkshire apart from Doncaster, where 217 girls under 18 conceived in 2012, up from 204 in 2011.

In Rotherham there were 144 in 2012, down from 201 a year earlier.

In Barnsley there were 179, compared to 191 in 2011.

Dr Story, a GP at Park Health Centre, part of NHS Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group’s Central Locality, said: “In my experience, teenage mothers don’t cope as well as older parents do.

“There are always exceptions – some do very well, but usually only with a lot of family support.

“The availability of contraception is really important, and girls should understand it and have the choice of taking it up.”

The GP added: “The best baby is one that’s wanted and planned, but sometimes even if it is planned, they don’t fully understand the implications of it – they’re still kids.

“Contraceptions that work the best are ones you don’t have to remember to take, you can just forget about it and get on with your life.”

A Sheffield Council spokeswoman said: “It is great to see the number of young girls getting pregnant is falling year on year. This shows teenage pregnancy is not necessarily an inevitable statistic, even in areas where rates have been high in the past.

“Education and good access to contraception services as well as other targeted work is helping to reduce the numbers and this is something we must build on. It is hard enough to be a parent at any time in life, let alone when you are so young.”

The council is targeting young people through its redesigned sexual health service, run by Sheffield Teaching Hospitals.

Workers will be focusing facilities on certain districts.

Nationally, the under-18 conception rate fell by 10 per cent from 31,000 in 2011 to 27,000 in 2012. Middlesbrough had the highest rate and the lowest was in Mole Valley, Surrey.