Under 16s pregnancies among highest in UK

Picture: Polina Sergeeva
Picture: Polina Sergeeva

LEVENMOUTH has earned the dubious distinction of having one of the UK’s highest rates of pregnancies in under 16s.

Latest data shows Fife had the highest teenage pregnancy rate in Scotland in 2009 for under 16s at 10.5 per 1000, or around one in 100 13 to 15-year-olds, but when looked at by area, the figure for Levenmouth in 2010 was higher still at 12.3.

In Scotland as a whole there were 7.1 per 1000 while in England and Wales, the figure for 2010 was slightly lower at seven per 1000.

By contrast, in North East Fife the rate is only 4.2 per 1000, below both the national average and the lowest NHS region in Scotland, which is Borders at five per 1000.

While the actual number of pregnancies is low, the rate has flagged Levenmouth up as one of the areas in Fife to get additional funding for joint working between NHS, schools and other agencies to target prevention for those girls most at risk.

Dr Lorna Watson, chair of the Fife Sexual Health Strategy Group, said: “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 alchohol and self-esteem.”

The national figures show a clear link with deprivation. Teenage pregnancy rates in under 16s in the most deprived areas of the country was nearly five times the rate of the least deprived areas.

In the under 18 and under 20 age groups, the highest rates were seen in NHS Tayside with rates of 46.6 per 1000 and 62.3 per 1000 recorded respectively.

Key role for parents in providing guidance

PARENTS in Fife have a vital role to play in the continuing drive to reduce the Kingdom’s teenage pregnancy rates.

Fife Council and NHS Fife are trying to involve parents in teaching their children about sexual health and relationships.

The move comes in the wake of figures released last month which showed Fife, by NHS area, has the highest teenage pregnancy rate in Scotland for under 16s.

While the number of pregnancies in under 16s dropped from 67 in 2009 to 57 in 2010, there has been a rise in those aged 16 and 17.

Dr Lorna Watson, chair of the Fife Sexual Health Strategy Group, said education was an issue for both girls and boys as potential mothers and fathers.

“Parents and carers have a key role in guiding young people in this area,” she said. “Further work is planned to help support parents and carers.”

Last year targeted training was delivered to staff in contact with vulnerable young people to identify issues early and services were in place to support very young parents where necessary.

Carrie Lindsay, Fife Council education officer, said a recent research project had provided good work on how to involve parents more in teaching children about relationships and sexual health.