Teen birth rates still too high

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The Scottish Government is to investigate whether strategies put in place to reduce the rates of teenage pregnancy are effective enough due to figures released which show Fife has the second highest rate of teenage pregnancy in the whole of Scotland.

The Kingdom also has the highest pregnancy rate in both the under-16s age group and under 18s in data collected up to 2010.

There were 9.2 births per 1000 for the under-16s and 47.7 births per 1000 for 16-18 year olds.

This is a slight improvement from 2009, when the teenage pregnancy birth rate was 10.5 per 1000 within the 16 and under category.

Speaking about the figures, which were higher than the Government had anticipated, Duncan McNeil, convener of the Health and Sport Committee, said: “Whilst there is general consensus over the fact that we need to reduce the number of teenage pregnancies, it is clear that there are no quick fixes or easy answers.

“Both local and national strategies are in place to try to reduce teenage pregnancy, but this inquiry will try and see if they are working, particularly because the reasons behind teenage pregnancy are complex and often linked to a number of factors.”

The committee hope to enlist the help of local councils and healthboards to suggest what more can be done.

Both NHS Fife and Fife Council have pledged their commitment to the cause, and as well as providing education in schools and other facilities, look to probe those wider factors which may contribute to such a high number of pregnancies in teenage girls in the area.

Carrie Lindsay, area education officer at the Council said: “While educating youngsters about sexual health is important, many other factors contribute to the problem, such as alcohol use, peer pressure and self-awareness.

“We’re trying to give teenagers across Fife a better understanding of how all these issues are linked so they can make more informed choices in their daily lives.”

Dr Lorna Watson, chair of the Fife multi-agency Sexual Health Strategy group added: “It is important that appropriate and high quality relationships and sexual health education is delivered and that relevant advice and support is available for young people, linking to related topics such as alcohol use and self-esteem.